Five-Minute Fire Prevention Tips

We’ve found we’ve found several blogs where people have said that their own home took only 5-10 minutes to burn. If you have an extra 5-10 minutes this weekend, tackling a few of these quick tasks could save you from a financial heartache down the road.

If You Have 5 Minutes

  1. Test your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors (follow the manufacturer’s instructions).
    • This should be done at least once a month.
    • Change the battery while you’re at it (if you haven’t in over six months or so).
  2. Do a fire extinguisher check.
    • Make sure the fire extinguishers are in their correct locations and fully charged. The dial should be at 100 percent or "full.”
    • If it is below those levels, you’ll need the extinguisher recharged by a professional (usually listed in the Yellow Pages or ask your fire department).
  3. Program “ICE” in to your cell phone.
    • ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. Simply enter ICE in front of any emergency contacts in your phone's address book - like ICE Erik.

If You Have 10 Minutes

  1. Choose a meeting spot.
    • Have your kids designate a place for family to meet outside the house. (If you choose a neighbor’s house, make sure all family members know the neighbor’s address and phone number. And be sure to tell the neighbor they are ‘it’!)

    WHN TIP: Find That Favorite Tree

    Neighbors too far away? Have your kids choose a favorite tree away from the home and on the lawn as your meeting place. Remind them to stay there and wait until the firefighters say it's OK to move. Make sure the spot is away from the road and driveway - first responder vehicles will drive on these.

  2. Review other emergency plans.
    • Go through the fire and disaster emergency response plan for your children's school or day-care center, as well as other places where your family spends time.
    • Talk about these plans with everyone in the family.

If You Have 1 Hour

  1. Make emergency information cards for each person in your family.
    • These health “business” cards list important contact details, allergies and special needs.
    • Handy for babysitters, teachers or child care providers, these cards can be easily laminated and can be placed inside backpacks, briefcases, purses or near a phone in your house.
  2. Safeguard your computer and your records.
    • You may lose a DVD or computer by theft or fire – and you won't have access to your info! Print lists and copy any videos or photos and give them to a friend or relative for safe keeping and easy access in case of an emergency.
  3. Create an emergency exit plan.
    • Draw a floor plan of your residence and mark two possible escape routes from each and every room.
    • Place a copy in each room in an obvious location - near the door, on a bulletin board, etc. - and tell each family member about the escape route plan.
  4. Practice the escape plan.
    • Blindfold family members, put them in their bedroom and tell them to crawl to safety.
    • Have parents time kids and kids time parents – the fastest one wins a prize! (Choosing dinner? Extra allowance? Just be sure prizes are decided before the race begins.)

If You Have a Morning or Afternoon

  1. Start your home inventory list.
    • You’ll want to do this to help with insurance claims in the event of a theft, fire or natural disaster. Get a video camera and pretend you’re on MTV Cribs or Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous while describing your things – have fun with it!
    • Also, for pricier items, antiques or heirlooms, be sure you have written documentation (make, models and serial numbers) along with visual documentation to help with an insurance claim.
  2. Gather important documents and make copies of them.
    • Keep the copies together in a Master Information Box.
    • Why? It’s pretty hard to file for an insurance claim and financial assistance without copies of your personal records and insurance policies.

Finished with all of these tasks? Head to Get Prepared for more preparedness tips.

Updated: 5/2009