House fires are devastating and cannot only cause loss of personal property, but sometimes lives.  If you have a chimney in your home, it is critical that you and your family are prepared in case of a fire. One thing you can do to minimize this risk, it to schedule annual cleaning and inspection. Creosote, obstructions and other issues can cause chimney fires. Unfortunately, even if your chimney is danger-free, you still have to prepare in case a fire starts in another area of  your home.

Knowing basic escape and fire safety saves lives. Make sure everyone in your household knows what to do.

Knowing basic escape and fire safety saves lives. Make sure everyone in your household knows what to do.

A plan helps everyone in your family feel prepared in the worst case scenario. Take time to practice the plan periodically in case changes need to be made.  You can start by drawing a diagram of your home and labeling all of the escape exits.  Include another objects that would aid your escape, such as stairs and other roof levels.  Have everyone practice staying low to the ground as they exit and teach them to stop, drop and roll in case clothing catches on fire.

It is also important to show at least two ways out of every room.Most people would just think of going out of the door, but there could always be fire blocking that route.  Make sure everyone know that if a door is too hot to touch, do not open it.  It is important that windows are easy to open and that all family members know how to do so.  Some people will need assistance escaping the home, such as elderly or children.

Once everyone has evacuated the home, it is important to meet in a centralized location to make sure that everyone has made it safely.  When calling the fire department, wait until everyone is outside the home.  Calling from inside could put you behind, making it harder for you to escape.  Once someone is outside of the home, make sure they do not reenter.  This could be dangerous not only for them, but rescue workers as well.

It is recommended that families hold fire drills twice a year for certainty of all members in the home.  Also, make sure you have plenty of smoke detectors so everyone can hear when they go off.  It is important to do routine tests on them as well and to make sure that the batteries are still in working order.  Following simple precautions now can make a difference in an emergency later.