It is impossible to predict if and when a disaster might strike, which makes it all the more important to have all the necessary safety precautions in place to minimise the potential harm. Below are four fire safety precautions to help you become better prepared against an unexpected fire outbreak at home:

1) Install fire detectors
If a fire is not handled correctly, it can have a devastating outcome. Not only does it put your family at risk, but it can create severe damage to your property as well. Investing in a smoke detector and fire extinguisher are good ways to minimise these risks. If your household uses any fuel-burning appliances such as gas stovetops, geysers, or heaters, it would be in your best interest to invest in a carbon monoxide (CO) detector which alerts you when the levels of CO in your home are dangerously high. Ideally, these detectors need to be placed where you can hear them. Saving the number of the closest fire department in your phonebook is another vital part of being prepared for an emergency.

2) Create a home evacuation plan
Take the time to create and practice an evacuation plan in the event of a fire. Though this might not seem necessary if you have a small household, you should at the very least have a short discussion with everyone in the home to outline a rough exit plan that is simple enough for all to understand and execute in times of panic.

If you’d like to be more thorough, draw a rough sketch of the floor plan of your home. On this floorplan, outline two exit routes for every room within your home and designate a single meeting spot outside of the home. If applicable, create an alternative route for those with disabilities. To make sure everyone remembers the exit plan, practice this exit strategy with everyone in your home at least twice a year.

3) Check your fire extinguisher & detectors regularly
Your fire extinguisher should be kept in an easily accessible area in your home and should be inspected at least once a month to ensure that it is in a fully operational state. Things to look out for when doing this inspection include any noticeable damage, leakage, changes in the pressure gauge and corrosion. It’s important to remember that your fire and CO detectors run on batteries and should be tested regularly – at least once a month. The batteries will most likely only need to be changed once a year.

4) Review your insurance policy
You should also review your home and households content insurance policy to see if you are covered against fire risk and what might be excluded from your policy. If you live in a high-risk zone, consider taking out a more comprehensive policy to guard against loss in the case of a fire. When reviewing your policy, decide what material possessions in your home are worth trying to rescue before a fire gets to them and which can be easily replaced once their household insurance claim pays out. Items such as photo albums and other sentimental objects could be kept in a fire-proof safe for peace of mind.    

Aim to be a prepared homeowner
Being prepared for a potential runaway fire may not seem like a pressing matter right now, but you should consider how quickly these kinds of disasters can occur. In a situation like this, time will be working against you. Being prepared can help minimise harm and get you and your family away from danger before any serious injury occurs. As a bonus, equipping your home with firefighting equipment may increase your home’s appeal should you later decide to sell your home.