While planning and preparing can’t stop emergencies from happening, having the supplies you need and some sense of direction can keep you and your family safer during a catastrophe. This is certainly the case for home fires, according to Michael Kozo, New York City Fire Department (FDNY) captain and commanding officer of the FDNY’s Fire Safety Education Unit.
Home fire safety “isn’t as simple as having a ‘go bag,’” Kozo told HuffPost. “We’re talking a little bit more about preparedness in terms of fire safety education. It’s all about having an escape plan in your home. Have everybody in your home sit down together and go over an escape plan. Then you practice it.”
Per Kozo, the number one way to be prepared for a home fire is to have working, regularly tested smoke alarms in every room of your house. He recommends checking the batteries once a month as well as brushing them off to make sure dust doesn’t get stuck in them.
With the rise in wildfires, it feels remiss to discuss home fire preparedness without looking into wildfire safety. Jon Heggie, battalion chief at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) defines home wildfire preparedness as “having all the things readily available if you are asked to evacuate.”
While this can mean an already packed to-go bag containing things like extra clothes, food, water and medication, Heggie says it’s also helpful to just keep a running list of where your important documents and sentimental items are around the house.
“We don’t want people to live in a constant state of fear and being packed, ready to go,” Heggie said. “But having that, you know — insurance papers, hall closet. Pictures, pick ’em up here. Know where those items are throughout your house to be able to grab and go at a moment’s notice.”
Whether you’re preparing a to-go bag or just want to equip your house the best you can for a fire, the experts break down the things you need to be prepared in the event of a blaze.
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Fireproof and water-resistant file folder
When it comes to fire preparedness, Heggie says you want to think about the P’s: papers, prescriptions, plastic (meaning credit cards or cash) and pets. This portable, expandable fireproof and water-resistant file can contain and organize all your important papers and files. It can store spare cash and credit cards as well.
Supplies for your pet
Heggie urges you to keep food and water for your human family in your to-go bag. He also recommends packing everything your pet may need, like their food and medications or an extra leash. This is a set of two collapsible food and water bowls that stack easily and make an instant space for your pet to eat and drink on the go.