A recent study conducted by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has stated that we now have 7 fewer minutes to escape a burning home than we did 30 years ago. Meaning, you have precisely 10 minutes to gather your loved ones and get out. This study points out two things that may be at the root of this decrease:
- Open-Concept Homes
While open-concept living may be on-trend from a design prospective, from a safety standpoint it’s a lot more not than not. The reason for this lies in the fact that open concept homes are unable to contain a fire, while also feeding the fire more oxygen than a traditionally divided home. In the past, if a fire started in the kitchen, you could have closed the doors to give yourself a bit more time to escape.
- Synthetic Building and Furnishing Materials
Take a look at this video from UL, illustrating how much faster synthetic furnishings burn than those made from natural fibres:
Important Fire Safety Tools
While we may like the idea of stopping to save treasured pictures, hidden cash, or a beloved pet hamster, what most experts will tell you is that the one and only thing that should be on your mind during a fire is getting your loved ones and yourself out immediately. No matter how important your treasures may seem, nothing matters more than your family’s safety.
Here are some essential fire safety products that could help save your life:
Home Sprinkler System
According to the Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association, over 300 Canadians die in house fires every year, with children and the elderly being at the highest risk. An excellent way to slow or even extinguish fires in the home is through the installation of a residential fire sprinkler system. The combination of smoke alarms and a home sprinkler system can reduce the risk of death by 82% (CASA).
These systems can be most easily added to new home builds; however, you can also retrofit an existing home.
The vast majority of homes in Canada consist of multiple stories, this means that there’s a good chance that if a fire were to break out, escape may only be possible from an elevated floor. That’s why people living in multi-story homes should invest in at least one 2-story escape ladder.
2-Story escape ladders can either be portable or installed below a window. They are lightweight yet sturdy aluminum and nylon ladders that are compact when stored and roll out to provide a safe exit from a second story window.
Extension Cords with Fire Shield
Take steps to prevent electrical fires at home, by switching to extension cords with fire alert technology. These advanced cords come equipped with automatic sensors that can alert you to any overloading, overheating, or other issues that can lead to electrical fires.
Fire Extinguisher + Training
Most homeowners and renters alike understand the importance of owning a fire extinguisher. However, not many people have ever actually used one. If you don’t know how to confidently use a fire extinguisher, when faced with the stress of a fire, there’s a chance you may hesitate or find yourself fumbling to operate it correctly.
Ensure that you know how to operate your fire extinguisher. If there comes a time when it’s needed, but you aren’t confident in your ability to use it, don’t hesitate, just gather your loved ones and get out of the home.
Fire Escape Plan
Quite possibly the most valuable fire safety tool you can have in your home is a developed, practiced escape route. Make sure everyone in your home, from the youngest to oldest reviews, understands and practices a few different ways out of your home in the event of a fire. This is essential, because, if ever your fire alarm goes off with a real fire at the source, you want everyone to have an automatic response to safety, successfully escape.