Family is cherished. It is one of the most comforting parts of life. Parents do everything possible to protect their families. Even so, sometimes things happen that cannot be controlled. When tragedy strikes, a family can be more severely impacted if there is no emergency plan in place.
A house fire is one of the most common threats to a family, and their home, yet only 26 percent of families have created and practiced a home fire escape plan. Ideally, you will never have to think about this. Just in case, however, become a “Survivor Mom,” and prepare in advance. It is better to be prepared for something that will never happen than to be unprepared for something that actually does.
Here’s a quick primer on a family game plan in case of a house fire:
- Establish a place for everyone to meet
- Determine in advance what everyone will take
- Decide in advance what everyone will leave behind
- Create a list of options of where to live if it’s a total loss
- Decide who will help you deal with the insurance company
Establish a place for everyone to meet
Your family should have a central meeting location. Identify a place that is far enough away from the house that the family is not in jeopardy of falling fiery debris. Also, be far enough away to avoid smoke inhalation, which is a leading cause of injury or death during fires. However, remain in the vicinity of your home so that you can talk to firefighters, police and ambulatory professionals who will arrive at the scene to manage the situation and assist you and your family. Once you establish the meeting place, have a family fire drill at least once per year to test your entire plan, including making sure everyone knows where to go.
Determine in advance what everyone will take
It’s tempting during a fire to grab everything possible. The minutes it takes to run through the house, grabbing material items, can cause great harm to your family’s health and their ability to exit the home safely. This also reduces the possible time to help other family members as necessary. To counteract this impulse to grab items, determine in advance what everyone will take and make this a part of your drills.
Decide in advance what everyone will leave behind
It is just as important to decide in advance what everyone will leave behind. Each person can only hold so much and every person’s life is the most precious thing to save. So think carefully through the lists of things that everyone will take and leave. Make sure your entire family knows what to grab and understands the importance of sticking to those things only. Also, try to be mindful of where items are stored and how quickly they can be retrieved during a fire.
Create a list of options for where to live if it’s a total loss
When a house fire results in a complete loss, one of the most impactful things is the family having to live in an unfamiliar place for weeks, or possibly months. Identify potential places in advance to make sure that accommodations, in this case, are similar to your family’s level of lifestyle, and as proximate as possible to your job and children’s’ schools. While there is no place like home, familiar options will help ease the emotional stress you and your family have to endure.
Decide who will help you deal with the insurance company
Getting someone to advocate for you and your family is perhaps the most comforting and stress reducing move you can make if you ever have to deal with a house fire. Although your insurance company’s adjuster may try to be tactful and kind, the truth is, insurance is a business. Thus, the insurance company is going to try to fulfill their contractual and legal requirements, while reducing the financial impact to their bottom line. Many people do not know that in the same way the insurance company employs an adjuster, you can employ one too. A professional, licensed public adjuster will have the same knowledge as the insurance company’s adjuster, except they will be working for you. When you hire one, it will be their job to get as much of a financial settlement as possible from the insurance company, so that you can buy or rebuild a new home and restore your family to normal living as quickly as possible.
David Dallmer is a licensed public adjuster living on the East Coast. He is passionate about providing the best property damage services possible.