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We can all remember watching and hearing about the Marshall Fire. I remember hearing the story from one the Project Managers that worked for a custom home builder we work with. It was her parent’s home and at the time, she lived with them. She told us the story of the chaos and how quickly it all happened. Just 20 minutes prior, her dad stood at the top of the hill to see how close the fire was to reaching them. It was fairly close but he didn’t think it would cross the road. If it did, he assumed it would take some time. It wasn’t until a neighbor came running for help because they waited too long and were forced to run from their home while momentarily catching on fire themselves that this family realized it’s time to go! They quickly got in car that was parked in the garage and backed out of driveway as fast as possible with the neighbors riding in the back. In that incredibly small amount of time, they noticed that their home was already on fire. By the time they got to the end of the street, the entire home was engulfed in flames. All of the memories in that home, gone in an instant.

I’ve been leery of fires after hearing that story as it was shocking how quickly the fire spread in their house.  In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a large fire so it’s important to be prepared.  Below are some precautions and suggestions for your home.

FIRE SAFETY IN THE HOME: HOW TO BE PREPARED

  • Install working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and check them MONTHLY. In nearly 60% of homes there are non-working smoke detectors or a lack of smoke alarms.  Replace smoke detectors every 8-10 years or as specified by the manufacturer.  Make sure to have one on each level of your home as well as near your kitchen and in all bedrooms. Carbon monoxide detectors need to be within 15′ of every bedroom. It never hurts to put one of each one near your furnace and even in the garage to be safe.             
  • Create an escape plan. Find 2 ways out of your home and set up a family meeting spot away from the home. Practice evacuating with children so they know how to get out and where to go once they’ve left the home. Teach them it’s ok to go out barefoot or without a coat.  Also practice with your eyes closed as many times vision will be hindered during a fire.  Make sure kids know how to open and get out of our front door, back door and their windows, just in case.                                     
  • Teach kids to not be afraid of firemen; especially firemen in masks. If your kids happen to be inside the home during a fire they most likely will be afraid so teach them not to hide so they can be rescued.  Have them practice calling out for help.  Also teach them not to be afraid of the sound of your smoke detector.  I know I’ve been cooking once or twice and burned something that caused our smoke detectors to go off and I know it was scary for the kids the first time they heard them. They covered their ears and gave me a hard time for burning dinner. However, it made me think about how smaller kids with a dad that wasn’t so loud and obnoxious would react in a fire. So it’s never a bad idea to practice your fire drills monthly. It’s a good practice to make sure to actually set off the alarms so kids (and adults) can get used to the sound of the alarm. Practice crawling on the floor with them in case of smoke and have them practice from various parts of the house. You can also teach them to bang on windows and make a lot of noise in case they’re trapped and can’t get out. You can even practice this in the car in case you’re ever in an accident and you’re knocked unconscious.                        
  • Remember: Stay low, feel the door knob, get out, and call 911 once you are outside and safe.                        
  • Make sure upstairs rooms have functioning windows – grease the locks and make sure windows are not super hard to open.                                                            
  • Have roll-up or fold-down ladders in upstairs bedrooms in the event that someone is trapped upstairs during a fire. Practice this type of evacuation so kids know how to safely climb down. Ideally have one in every room someone regularly sleeps in. They can easily be stored under the bed.                                                               
  • Make sure basements and basement bedrooms have at least one or two egress windows that are large enough for someone to get out of the window. If there’s a window well make sure there is a ladder in the window well so someone can climb out in case of fire.                                        
  • Have ample fire blankets and fire extinguishers.  Store a fire blanket under every bed and keep a fire extinguisher in every bedroom as well as one in the kitchen and garage.  Make sure to inspect the fire extinguishers each year. Everyone should know exactly where these items are for a quick response and you should explain to your kids how to use them.

For additional peace of mind, check out devices such as the Nest Protect,* which we love.  I love that they are connected to each other and will go off if one senses a fire at another alarm.  It’s also nice when you have babysitters or nannies as you’ll be notified immediately on your phone if one of the smoke detectors starts going off.   If Nest is not something that interests you, The Roost battery*  retrofits into your existing smoke detectors.  It effortlessly connects to your WiFi and sends push notifications to your phone or device. It only needs to be replaced every 3-5 years. Click the links to find out more about those life-saving technologies.

WAYS TO AVOID FIRES:

  • Don’t leave pans on the stove cooking unattended. Grills need to be at least 10+ feet away from anything that could catch fire such as your home and be sure to NOT throw out hot ashes.                                               
  • Never leave candles or warmers unattended. I can’t tell you how many times I go into a house for showings and the seller has left a candle burning. Do NOT do this. 
  • Smoke outside and away from oxygen tanks. Keep an ashtray or metal can handy to soak butts before disposing. A great friend was on a work trip and stopped to say hi to Devin, me and kids when he received a call that his stunning home in Napa Valley had just burned to the ground. The cause, unfortunately, was his wife was smoking in the house watching tv. It’s not worth it.                                                                    
  • Space heaters are popular in colder climates and seasons such as CO.  Only use them 3+ feet away from anything that could catch fire and place them on level ground so they cannot be knocked over. I also don’t recommend keeping them on at night when you are sleeping.
  • Don’t leave appliances such as crock pots plugged in overnight.                                                                    
  • Educate children on fire safety. Matches and lighters need to be stored away from children’s reach; ideally in a locked cabinet.                                                    
  • Don’t leave kids unattended around sources of fire. Warn against touching or placing things in fireplaces or on candles in the home.

*The Capney Collection is not affiliated with these brands, these are merely suggestions for homeowners to look into for ways to be alerted when there is a fire emergency.  Please do your own research when it comes to making sure your home is as safe as possible in case of a fire. 

Your Colorado Real Estate Expert