Whether you’re a renter, a first-time homeowner, or someone who has lived in your home for decades, fire safety at home is crucial no matter the situation. Although you may not think about it daily, fire safety is something to be well aware of in order to create the ultimate safe, practical home. Every year, thousands of homes are affected by fires, causing injury and death, as well as extensive property damage. But don’t panic, we’re here to show you the steps to take to protect your home and family from the devastating effects of a fire and more importantly, how to prepare and plan ahead to prevent a home fire.
1. Check Your Fire Alarms Regularly
One of the most essential steps to protect your home and family from a fire is ensuring that your smoke alarms are working correctly. Ensure you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement and inside every bedroom. Check your smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year. If your smoke alarm is over 10 years old, it's time to replace it. And if you’re unsure when the smoke alarm was installed, we recommend sticking to the safe side and replacing it to be as current as possible.
Check out our video on how often you should test your fire alarms on our Practical Home Instagram page.
2. Ensure You Have a Fire-Rated Door Between the Garage and Home
First, check to see if you have a fire-rated door leading to your garage—this was not residential building “code” back in the day! A fire-rated door is made up of specific materials intended to prevent the spread of a fire from one room to the next. If your home has an attached garage, it’s important to ensure there is a fire-rated door between the garage and the rest of the house. This door will help prevent the spread of a fire to the rest of the home, while giving you and your family more time to escape. They also have different ratings depending on code criteria, which could range from 20 to 180 minutes. Fire-rated doors are available to purchase from home maintenance stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s.
3. Fire Tape the Drywall Adjacent to the Home
The wall between an attached garage and the home’s living area (and if there’s a living area above the garage) needs to be ½ inch drywall. Fire tape for drywall is also key to helping prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of your home, which is typically required by building codes.
4. Have a Fire Escape Plan
In case of a fire, every second counts. This is why it's essential to have a fire escape plan in place. Sit down with your family and discuss what to do in case of a fire. Make sure everyone knows how to get out of the house. This plan should include different escape routes, a meeting place outside of the home, and knowing all of the exits available in a home. Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year with everyone in your home!
What to Do If a Home Fire Occurs
If a fire occurs in your home, acting quickly and calmly is essential.
Remember the following steps:
- Call 911 from a safe location outside the house.
- Exit the home immediately.
- Seek safety.
- NEVER go back inside the house for any reason.
- If you can't get out of the house, stay low to the ground, and cover your mouth and nose with a wet cloth to avoid inhaling smoke.
- If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll until the flames are extinguished.
Watch here for even more home fire safety tips:
All in all, fire safety at home should be a top priority for everyone. Don’t wait until it’s too late to take action and make a plan—figure it out now! By following these practical tips, you can help protect your family and home from the devastating effects of fire.
Stay tuned for more tips on home maintenance, prevention, design, and more here at Practical Home. And catch us on HGTV Tuesday evenings beginning March 28, 2023 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on our new show Renovation 911.