You never know when a fire could start in or near your home. Insurance can replace the home and some items, but what about things with sentimental value, what about your photos and memories. It is always smart to be prepared and to fireproof your house. It may not happen, but you still pay for insurance, this is just another safety measure before you have to worry about the insurance excess.

So why not do a few simple things so you are prepared if a fire does come bearing down on your house.

The Outside

Your garden could be full of dry leaves and branches, and these can easily start a fire with just a small spark to get it going. Make sure you always clear the dead leaves off your lawn (especially in autumn) and check that your gutters are not clogged up with debris. Check your gutters at least twice a year and clean them out if there is any debris clogging them up. It is also useful to install gutter grates (they are like drain grates that fit across your gutters) to make sure nothing but water gets in.

Make sure you trim down any trees that hang over or too close to your house. Not only can this prevents the spread of fire but could also protect your roof against damage if the tree happens to fall. As a general rule, keep anything that can easily burn (dry leaves or tree branches, gas bottles) at least 10 meters away from your house for maximum protection.

The Inside

Fire alarms are your first and easiest line of defense against indoor fires. Place a fire alarm (also known as a smoke detector) in every room and make sure that you always have good batteries in them. When they start to beep to tell you the battery is low, DON'T IGNORE IT, it could turn out to be worth way more than a few dollars you would spend on a new battery. Also test them every month to make sure they work, there is a little button that you can press that will sound the alarm (make sure everyone in the house knows you are doing this). In countries such as Australia, it is actually a legal requirement to have fire alarms installed in a new home before tenants can move in.

Avoid clutter at all costs, this is just basic housekeeping but could well save your life. If you have a bunch of clutter lying around the house, not only can it catch fire and spread the fire through the house quicker, but it could also hinder your chances of getting out of the house safely if it all gets out of hand. In many cases, it is smoke inhalation that kills in a house fire, so you want to get out quickly and safely.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is the most dangerous room in your house when it comes to fire, think of all the oil, gas and other things just lying around, waiting to catch fire. So it pays to be prepared in the kitchen.

Have a fire blanket ready and waiting within quick reach. Generally it is NOT a good idea to throw water onto an oil fire (go to YouTube to see some videos of what can happen) but an effective way to put out a fire is to starve it of oxygen and the best way to do this? Throw the fire blanket over it. If the fire is small enough to just put the lid onto the pot or pan, this is definitely beneficial, but if it starts getting out of control, straight to the fire blanket.

Make sure that you check all of your appliance too; this goes for all around the house just as much as in the kitchen. A fire can easily start from a frayed power lead (make sure you replace the lead or appliance immediately) by a single spark jumping from an exposed copper wire, or from a flammable object being too close to an appliance such as a room heater.

Another housekeeping tip: make sure your kitchen is clean; a dirty kitchen can not only lead to sickness because of bacteria in your food, but built up grease is very flammable and just waiting for a spark to start a fire.

Have a Plan

Always have a plan ready should the fire become out of control, and it's not just enough to have a plan, make sure everyone in your house knows what to do if there is a fire. In the case of an out of control fire, you want to make sure that your family gets out of the house and to an evacuation point quickly and safely. Even do a trial run once a year with your family so they are ready if the worst happens. You done fire drills at school, you do fire drills at work. They don't just do these for fun; make sure you do them at home too.

As bad as it sounds, leave everything behind. Have a kit ready just in case (and easily accessible) which has some spare cloths, copies of important documents etc that you can grab on the way out of a burning house, but remember, you want to get out as soon as possible. Don't keep running inside to get your possessions because you will suffer the effect of smoke inhalation. The plasma TV is not worth your life, regardless of how much you paid for it.

Get down low and GO GO GO!!!

REMEMBER – Prevention is ALWAYS better than the cure!!!

Fireproof you home, and stay safe.