Positive things often rise out of the ashes of a difficult situation, and I’ve experienced the truth of that first hand.  As many of you may know, my family’s home of 34 years was completed destroyed in a fire last year, and it has definitely been a trying time for all of us.  To help others avoid the same tragedy, I want to share some preventative tips and fire safety procedures from those who know it best: the Sacramento Fire Department!  On this episode of Sac N Gaged, we’re talking with Captain Keith Wade to learn about some common causes of house fires, how they can be prevented, and what to do if you find yourself in a dangerous situation.  By following a few simple guidelines, you can hopefully save yourself and your family from ever having to endure the loss of your home. It’s surprisingly more common than you think: U.S fire departments respond to an average of one house fire every 88 seconds!  While there are a variety of ways these fires can start, there are three main areas where blazes most frequently originate: the kitchen, the laundry room, and the garage.  Cooking mishaps are the number one cause of home fires, but many people don’t think of the other areas than can easily lead to a dangerous situation.  As Captain Wade explains, dryers with an excessive buildup of lint can be like a tinder box ready to ignite, something that many homeowners overlook.  The garage is also a potential danger zone, as it’s usually full of flammable, hazardous materials and usually houses vehicles, water heaters and electrical components.

A few simple steps can be employed to prevent serious damage from a home fire in these common areas: keep a few working fire extinguishers in various areas of your home; clean dryer lint traps frequently; maintain a clearance around your water heater and avoid garage clutter and unplug appliances or tools when not in use.  Another great tip?  “Close before you doze,” making sure all doors or shut before you go to sleep in case a fire should start unexpectedly.  This will buy you precious time to escape should the worst happen.  One of the best tools homeowners can use to their advantage is a good fire alert system, so that no matter where you are in the home, you’ll be aware of any potentional danger.

Prevention is key, but there are times when accidents are unavoidable, putting you right in the midst of a burgeoning blaze.  Captain Wade advises three immediate steps to take: get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1.  Make sure you and your family members have a plan, and practice it so everyone knows where the best exits are and what to do.  Stay low to avoid smoke inhalation, find your exit route, and once you’re out, don’t run back in for possessions.  Your life is far more valuable than any material possession!  Sacramento has an amazing fire department that’s well staffed and very responsive, so once you’re clear of danger, call them and let them do what they do best: battle the blaze.

While dealing with the loss of my family home has been difficult, the silver lining lies in being able to share my parents’ story and help others avoid tragedy if possible.  By following these tips and tricks and making sure you’re prepared, you’ll have a much better chance of not only preventing a home fire, but escaping one if the worst should happen.