Surprisingly, modern homes burn much quicker than older homes. In fact, Under Writer laboratories refers to modern homes as a “perfect storm” for fires. The combination of larger homes, open floor plans, increased fuel loads, and new construction materials in cause faster fires.
In their study, three legacy home configurations (comparable to homes from the 1950s-1970s) were compared to three modern homes with modern furnishings. The results are startling. The modern rooms transitioned to flashover eight times faster than the legacy rooms. Flashover is, essentially, the point at which all the contents of a room ignite simultaneously. All three of the modern rooms reached flashover within five minutes. The earliest a legacy room reached flashover was twenty-nine minutes.
Five minutes and all the contents of the room have ignited near simultaneously. In able for you and your loved ones to escape, you would need to leave no later than two or three minutes after ignition.
Now more than ever, fire prevention, early warning, and an escape plan are essential to your family’s safety.
Fire prevention is multi-faceted. Many of the facets you have control over. For example,cooking is the leading cause of house structure fires. One of the simplest steps you can take to protect your family is to keep a close eye on the food your preparing. This is especially true if you are frying, grilling, or broiling. Don’t start it and walk away. Monitor what you are cooking. It’s not only safer, but chances are your food will turn out better. Another simple step is to keep anything that can catch fire away from your stove. The stove shouldn’t be considered an extension of your kitchen counter.
After you have taken the necessary steps to prevent a fire, you still need an early warning system to protect your loved ones. According to the Red Cross, 60% of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. Many people have smoke alarms the question is are they working. It’s recommended that smoke alarms be tested monthly. Honestly, do most busy people check their smoke alarms monthly? Probably not. Assuming you haven’t been checking your smoke alarms once a month, you may want to consider an automated system. Depending on the system, it will automatically be checked once a month without any effort on your part. An additional feature with these systems is the voice response. Rather than an annoying beep, a voice responds with the location and an alert. As a result, you maybe less inclined to assume it’s a weak battery when the smoke alarm beeps.
The last line of defense an escape plan. Everyone within the home should know two ways out of every room. Children should be familiar with the sound of a smoke alarm and should know what they need to do. A common meeting place should be established. Practice at least twice a year.
Do you have a plan?