I had a pretty scary accident recently in my home.
I nearly burned our house down.
No, that’s not an exaggeration. To make a long story short (you can read the entire story here), I wasn’t paying attention, and didn’t notice that the stove eye had been turned on when it was bumped. I went to the back of the house to do a few things on my lunch break, and after a couple of minutes, I started smelling something. I hurried back to the kitchen and when I turned into the dining room, I saw the flames. They were probably two feet high, nearly to the stove hood.
Fortunately, I was able to put the fire out quickly, because I had fire extinguishers under our sink. I got lucky.
I was able to quickly and efficiently put the fire out.
There was minimal damage, our house was ok, and I am ok.
After my experience, I immediately decided to write an article talking about basic fire precautions, and what to do if you’re facing a fire in your home. Get prepared for fires, people – they can happen to anyone!
No matter what kind of a fire you’re facing, if you have a fire in your home, the first thing to do is get everyone out. Talk to your family in advance to make sure that everyone clearly understands that, in the event of a fire, everyone needs to get up and quickly leave the premise. Make sure your children understand that they should NEVER re-enter the house. Have a designated spot in your yard for your family to meet and wait together.
Basic Fire Control
Do you have a fire extinguisher? When my friends heard about my fire, most of them said the same thing: “I don’t even have a fire extinguisher.” Thank God I did. I stand firm: the fire extinguisher saved my house.
Fire extinguishers are something that no one wants to spend money on, but they might be the thing that saves your home. You can purchase a small one for less than $20. Once you use your extinguisher, you will need to purchase another one unless you find a company that will recharge them.
- P-Pull the Pin
- A-Aim at the base of the fire
- S-Squeeze the trigger
- S-Sweep from side to side
What to Do in an Electrical Fire
Electrical fires are often hard to detect because they typically happen because of faulty wiring or outlets and can quickly spread behind a wall before you know what’s happening.
In the event that you have an electrical fire, there are few steps you can take to shut it down quickly, but before you do anything else, grab your phone and call 9-1-1.
1. Get to your breaker box and kill the power to the outlet. If you don’t know which breaker it is, just shut down power to the whole house.
2. If you can see flames, and the fire is small still, use a class C fire extinguisher to put out the flames. Fire extinguishers have different ratings so make sure you have a multi-purpose or class C extinguisher.
3. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, grab baking soda and dump it on the fire. Baking soda is sodium carbonate, which will smother the fire.
4. Even if you think it’s extinguished, leave the house and wait for the fire department to get there to confirm that the fire is out, and then have an electrician come and inspect the damage, and help you source the reason for the fire – and fix it, of course.
Keep Reading to find out what to do in the event of a grease fire or cooking fire!
What to Do in a Grease Fire/Cooking Fire
A fire in your kitchen should be handled a bit differently than an electrical fire, once you’ve called 9-1-1 and cleared all of your loved ones from the home.
1. If you have a gas stove, turn the eye off, if you can get to it safely.
2. If possible, slide a lid over the top of the fire. Fire cannot survive without oxygen.
3. Baking soda is the right choice again for trying to smother the flame, but DO NOT PUT WATER ON A GREASE FIRE. Adding water may cause the oil to splash, which will spread the fire instead of putting it out.
4. Use a fire extinguisher rated for kitchen fires. They even sell specific fire extinguishers for the kitchen.
5. Once again – even if you think the fire is all out, leave and wait for the fire department to get there. Don’t attempt to move the pot or pan that was burning. You could reignite the fire, or burn yourself.
The U.S. Fire Administration has a number of excellent tips on Cooking Fire Safety. I wanted to highlight a few of those tips here.
1. If you have a fire in your oven or microwave, do not open the door. Fire needs oxygen to burn. You remove the oxygen, you can stop the fire. Keeping the door closed will reduce the available oxygen and the fire will go out. Unplug the appliance if you can safely do so. Keeping the door closed will also keep you from getting burned.
2. In the event of a fire on your stove, keep a lid and pot holder nearby when you’re cooking. As I said before, fires need oxygen. If you have the time, you can slide a lid on top of the pan where a fire has started (using a pot holder!) and you may be able to stop the fire in its tracks.
3. Locate fire extinguishers near room exits. You want to have a clear exit directly behind you so that you can quickly leave if the fire is too large or out of control.
4. If you have to leave because the fire is getting out of control, close the door to the room behind you. This will contain or slow down the fire and hopefully keep it from spreading to the rest of your house.
Home Fires: Safety First
I know you want to save your home (or your kitchen) in the event of a fire, but I want to say this: Don’t try to be a hero. If you can act quickly and put the fire out, do so – but if the fire is spreading quickly, and getting bigger, the best thing you can do for your family is leave and wait for help. You are so much more important to your family than your home is. Take care of yourself and your family first and foremost. Extinguishers are meant to help put out a fire in its initial stages, not once it is fully ignited and increasing in size and strength.
Today’s the day to head to the store to get the right tools and equipment for your home – Don’t wait until a fire happens, and you’re unprepared.