Fire safety starts with being safe around open flames and hot items, but also includes knowing how to protect yourself and your home. This article is written based on over a decade of specialized fire safety training that we have undergone for performances involving pyrotechnics and open flame. We also have experience creating defensible space and invite you to take a moment to learn how you can become more fire safe in your daily life.
1. Preventing Accidental Fires
Most people have heard conventional wisdom like turning off the oven or being careful with candles, but you can also prevent fires in and around your home by taking good care of your electrical systems. Don’t leave things plugged in if you don’t need to, don’t leave batteries in devices for extended period without using them, and be sure to inspect your household electrical, heating, and other elements which could pose a potential fire risk. The more you pay attention, the more opportunities you have to make small changes that keep you and your family safe.
2. How to Protect Yourself
In the event that you are exposed to open flame, the best materials to have for clothing are non-synthetic tight weave or natural fiber such as leather or jean jacket. The tighter your clothing fits against your skin, the less likely your clothes are to catch fire, which is great to remember when attending a bon-fire or other place that has open flames. You should avoid any clothing with synthetic fibers such as lycra, velvet, stretchy fabrics, or loose flowing fabrics that could catch fire.
While we have all heard the classic “stop drop and roll” method, most people do not think about their surroundings and have actually caused more damage by rolling on synthetic fibers in carpet or rolling quickly and giving the flames more air. I’d like to inspire you to consider the “stop” part to be “stop and think.” Evaluate your options. Do NOT just roll wildly in every direction or you could hurt yourself and/or set the surrounding area on fire. Also look for a fire blanket as it is the safest way to put out a “human torch” and is the preferred method for fire performers. You can also use a regular household fire extinguisher on a person, just tell them to cover their eyes and deep breath then spray aimed at the lowest part of the flames and go up/down plus walk around them in a circle to fully make sure.
3. How to Protect Your Home
The number one thing that you can do to protect your home is to create defensible space. That means reducing fire risks like tall dry grass on a regular basis, and going down to the dirt if you are in a warning area and trying to protect your home. A rake works wonders for doing this, and you will also want gloves.
Another suggestion is to trim trees high enough up that a brush fire will not ignite the trees, especially if you have densely packed trees in a dry area. Many of the homes in the current path of the Dixie Fire have used ladders or even machines to cut away branches and strip the forest floor down to the dirt. While that is normally not done to protect the natural beauty of the forest and prevent erosion, this year is extraordinary and people are going the extra distance to protect themselves and their neighbors from these massive fires.
4. How to Put Out A Small Fire
A small fire is any fire which is less than 3ft tall+diameter. This is the approximate size that the average household fire extinguisher can put-out, and you want to be sure that there is no hidden dangers such as fires in the attic or other things you may not be able to see. A good rule of thumb is that you should only attempt to fight a fire if you or someone else saw it start and know that what you see is what you get. Do NOT attempt to fight a fire in a confined space, one that blocks your exit, or that you cannot see the entire thing.
Another good rule of thumb is that your fire extinguisher is a way to get yourself out of your home, and not sufficient to fight anything larger. Always fight a fire with your back to your exit and remain aware of your surroundings!
- Pull the pin on your fire extinguisher. This allows you to squeeze the handle and start spraying (see next step).
- Aim at the base of the fire. Do not just spray the flames, you need to coat the thing that is on fire with the contents of your fire extinguisher!
- Sweep side to side as you squeeze the handle.
- Learn how to use a fire extinguisher for real. You will not regret the cost.
5. How to Evacuate
If the fire is larger than you can put out (3ft cubed), you need to leave. Have a plan for how to get out of your home in an emergency, and also have an evacuation route away from any fields or other areas that could host a wild/forest fire so that you can be safe both at home and out on adventures.Always leave earlier than you think you need to!
What to take if you need to evacuate….
- Pets and their food, carriers, etc
- Family photos/mementos
- Push furniture to the middle of a room
- Close doors/windows to reduce airflow
- Extinguish pilot lights. Close all gas valves.
- Leave a light in a window for firefighters to see your home.
What you need to bring to go assist someone…
- First Aid kit.
- Jumper cable kit.
- Work gloves.
- Good stable shoes on your feet.
- Charged cell phone plus cable to charge in the car.
- Large fire extinguisher, and make sure to check the gauge.
- Food for a few days.
- Medicines to last at least a few days.
- One gallon of emergency water in addition to water bottle for each person.
- Straps and ropes to be able to tie things down.
- Fire resistant clothing in case you need to shield yourself from flames.
- Full tank of gas before going toward an evacuation zone.
Thank you for taking a moment to read my article. I hope that it has provided you with new insight and a greater understanding of fire safety and how to implement it into your daily life. Please let us know if you have any questions and we are happy to cover this more in-depth.
Be safe. Be prepared.