The Most Likely Threat No One Talks About

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

A few days ago, the local news reported a massive fire in one of the apartment complexes in Houston.  Two buildings, housing 36 units were damaged, leaving around 30 families homeless just before Christmas.  Investigators suspect the cause was an electrical malfunction within one of the vacant units.

Fires cause more deaths and property damage than floods, tornadoes or hurricanes.  Yet when people think about preparedness, they rarely mention the threat of fire.  Fire danger is high, especially when you live in close quarters such as apartments, town homes and condominiums.

According to American Red Cross, when a fire starts inside your house, you only have around two minutes to escape.  This means two minutes to round up your family, pets and grab anything if you can.  You may not even have time to save any possessions, unless you have a bug out bag right by the exit, with some basic necessities and important documents.

I worry about this myself.  If you store all your emergency supplies at home, a fire will not only wipe out your possessions but your preps as well.  Since hearing about that apartment fire, I have been thinking about ways to mitigate the threat.

  • Make sure your home or renter’s insurance is current, and protects against loss due to fire.
  • Make an inventory of your possessions.
  • Gather your important documents and make a grab and go binder or save in  a flash drive.  Store them in a fire-resistant bag or safe
  • Make sure you have smoke detectors in every room.   Sometimes it is tempting to disarm them when they are too sensitive and make a loud ruckus – don’t do it!  Check them every six months and replace batteries if needed.
  • Dried out Christmas trees cause fires – make sure to keep your tree watered.
  • If you are using candles during a power outage, keep them away from curtains and other flammable items.  Never leave kids and pets unsupervised around candles that can topple over.
  • Make a fire escape plan with your family.  Hold a fire drill a couple of times a year.
  • Most fires start in the kitchen, so take precautions when cooking.  Do not store flammable items near the stove.  Keep your kitchen grease free and uncluttered.  Never leave things cooking on the stove unattended.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.

How to put out a grease fire

  • Turn off the heat source (gas or electricity-it doesn’t matter.  Turn it off!!)
  • Never throw water on a grease fire.
  • Deprive the fire of oxygen by covering it with another pot.
  • Or, if you are not able to cover it, sprinkle a lot of baking soda on the fire.

If a fire starts at home, get everyone out as quickly as possible, stay away from the house and call 911.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

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  1. Having lived through a house fire, I can tell you it can happen to anyone, anytime. Back in 1987 during a blinding snow storm, our house caught fire. I was just getting into bed when the smoke alarm started screaming (thank God for them). Thinking that the wood stove was letting smoke into the basement, I walked over and opened the basement door to go check. What I was faced with was wall to wall flames. The fire had started in one corner and flashed across the entire basement burning the exposed paper face of the insulation. I slammed the door and called the fire company, then started grabbing my cats and taking them out to the vehicle. My friend ext door heard the fire call on the scanner and came down and plowed out my drive so fire trucks could get in. As I left the house for the final time, I closed every door to every room and am convinced that this is what saved us. By the time the fire company arrived, the fire was all but burned out. Being a fairly new house and pretty airtight, the fire had suffocated itself. Everything in the basement was destroyed, but there was minimal damage to the main floor, mostly the carpet and base of cabinets. If you have time when a fire hits, try to close all doors and windows as you leave to deprive the fire of oxygen. It was finally determined or probably better described as not determined to be an electrical cause. Since they could not come up with any real reason for the fire they said it must have been electrical.

    1. Hi jAS, That must have been a harrowing experience. How awful to have that happen-sorry it happened to you. Your experience shows it can happen to anyone and it is fairly common. I had a conversation with a prepper who had lost everything in a fire. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Some people says you nevr have enough guns.
    I say you never have enough fire blankets, fire extinguisher or smoke detectors. In every room and know how to use them and keep them ok.

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