When Tragedy Strikes - One Family's Fire Story

When Tragedy Strikes - One Family's Fire Story

From 2015 to 2019, US fire departments responded to an estimated average of 346,800 house fires each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). During that period, these fires caused an average of 2,620 civilian deaths; 11,070 fire-related injuries; and around $7.3 billion in property damage and loss.

When house fires occur and destroy homes and property, it is a devastating loss for the families and the last thing that anyone would want to happen to their home.

How one family lost almost everything to a house fire

The Blevins family woke up to a living nightmare when a fire started in their home. They had gone to bed the night before and were woken up by their cats going crazy at two in the morning. When they got up, they saw flames coming from their back patio door and quickly jumped into action. Mr. Blevin went to find the fire extinguisher, but when he came around to the front door to extinguish the flames, their entire porch was engulfed. He joined his family in the front yard as they watched their home succumb to the fire and burn to the ground.

They said the flames must have been 50 to 60 feet high, and the only thing that was left standing once the fire was gone was their Liberty Safe. The fire marshall and the locksmith didn’t give them much hope for finding anything remaining in the safe. The safe itself was scorched and the fire reached 2400 degrees, twice the temperature that Liberty Safes are tested at.

So, when they got the safe open, the Blevins were surprised to find that everything inside the gun safe was intact and, for the most part, unscathed. There was a little smoke damage and moisture from the fire hose, but they were able to recover everything that was in their safe.

They had important documents, money, guns, family photos, and their son’s baby footprints - the sentimental items that would have brought even more devastation to an already tragic event. When 99% of their home was destroyed, the 1% that was in their Liberty Safe survived.

The Blevins expressed that they only wished they would have thought to put more items in their safe and Mr. Blevin said, “The cost is minuscule when you think about everything that could be saved inside of there.”

While we are devastated for the Blevins family and the loss of their home, we are glad they weren’t harmed and that they were able to preserve a few irreplaceable items in their safe.

We hope that no one has to face this kind of event in their home, but we also want to express the importance of taking the best precautions, being prepared, and understanding what safety measures to take in case this ever happens in your home.

Watch These Other Liberty Safe Fire Survival Stories

What precautions can you take to help prevent fires in your home?

Not all house fires can be avoided, but there are precautions you can take to prevent the risk of a fire breaking out in your home. The top five causes of house fires are:

  1. Cooking
  2. Heating
  3. Electrical
  4. Smoking
  5. Candles

Knowing these causes and taking action to prevent them can help mitigate the risk of a house fire. Here are several actions you can take in your home to help prevent fires.

Test your smoke alarms on a regular basis

Your smoke alarms are your first defense against a house fire. They will sound off when a fire strikes to give you and your family enough time to escape and call for help.

If you have a battery-operated smoke alarm, it’s important to test it at least every six months. And if the beep or the alarm sounds weak, be sure to replace the batteries.

If you have a wifi-connected alarm, make sure you have notifications set up so that you know when to replace the batteries. Many modern smoke alarms are hard-wired into homes to monitor for smoke and carbon monoxide and will send alerts to your phone and tablet.

Inspect your heating sources

Heating equipment is one of the top causes of house fires in the US. Inspect your heating sources (furnace, space heaters, fireplaces, central heating systems, etc.) to ensure they are working properly. Make sure you get the recommended maintenance from your HVAC provider to keep everything working as it should.

Additional actions you can take here are to clean out air filters and keep the space around your heating sources clear.

Keep your stove and oven clean

Buildup under your stovetop burners and in your oven can cause fires to break out. After cooking, take a few minutes to clean up your oven or stovetop. This is particularly important on gas stoves that have an open flame.

For ovens that have self-cleaning settings, try to take advantage of this and run the self-cleaning on your oven every couple of months.

Also be sure to keep things like hand towels, curtains, and cookbooks clear of the stovetop to prevent them from becoming a fire hazard.

Be careful when cooking

When distractions happen while cooking, a pan of sauteed vegetables can go from delicious to deadly in a matter of minutes. Never leave your stovetop cooking unattended and keep distractions to a minimum.

If you do need to leave the kitchen while you’re cooking, it’s safest to turn off the stovetop and stop cooking. Or you can ask another person (a responsible adult or teenager) to take over for you.

Make sure your dryer has adequate airflow

Dryers account for around 2,900 fires in homes in the US each year. Clogged vents and buildup in the filters are the primary cause of dryer fires. Here are some ways that you can prevent dryer fires:

  • Try to have your dryer inspected at least once each year, but more often if you need it.
  • Be sure to clean the lint trap before each new load of laundry.
  • Check the back of the machine regularly for small clothes like socks that may have fallen behind it.

Be careful with electrical outlets and cords

Electrical fires are another of the top causes of house fires in the US. Take care when plugging and unplugging items from outlets, and be careful not to overload an outlet. Use surge protectors when you need to plug in multiple items in the same area - like a computer, wifi router, and monitors. And try not to plug too many high-powered items into the same outlet or extension cord (like space heaters, air conditioners, fans, microwaves, hairdryers, etc.).

Also, make sure you don’t have any frayed or exposed wires. If you have pets that like to chew on things, check your cords frequently or place them in such a way that your pets can’t get to them. If you have frayed cords on electronic devices, use electrical tape to cover them, or even better, try to replace the cord altogether.

Store flammable items with care

Flammable items like hair products, cleaners, and other household chemicals have advisory statements for storage and temperature warnings for a reason. Pay attention to the storage instructions on your household chemicals and take care to heed those.

Keep these items away from heat sources and store them in cool, dry areas.

Exercise caution with candles

Candles bring about a cozy feeling to any home, but as an open flame, they can be dangerous when left unattended. Here are a few tips to continue to use your candles safely:

  • Blow candles out before leaving a room.
  • Blow candles out before you fall asleep.
  • Keep candles far from other objects.
  • Never place candles on an uneven or unstable surface where they can tilt or fall easily.
  • Keep lit candles out of the reach of pets and children.
  • Don’t let children have candles lit in their bedrooms.

Teach your children about fire safety

Every member of your household should be familiar with these fire safety tips. Take the time to teach your children these tips to help them contribute to a fire-safe home as well as to give them the knowledge they need to ensure their future homes are safe from fires.

Safety measures to take in case of a house fire

As we’ve mentioned, you can do everything right and a house fire can still take place, whether it’s due to a natural disaster or other external factors. Remember these six safety measures in the event that a fire ever happens in your home:

  1. Have an exit strategy. Create and practice exit strategies in your home with your family. Make sure you and your children are aware of all possible exits from each room in the house, including windows.
  2. Stay low to the ground. If a fire occurs in your home and there’s already smoke in the air, stay low and crawl. Smoke travels upwards, so staying low can allow you to have more breathable air. You may also want to cover your mouth and nose with a cloth to help filter the smoke.
  3. Close the door. If there is a fire in the hallway outside the room you are in that is blocking your exit, close the door. This will help slow down smoke and fire from getting into the room you're in, giving you more time to escape out the window or wait for a firefighter.
  4. Stop, drop, and roll. This has been ingrained in most of us from a young age, and that’s because it works. If your clothes catch on fire, stop running, drop to the floor, and roll until the fire is out.
  5. Leave the house quickly. Get your family and exit the home as quickly as possible. Don’t try to save every item that you can. The most important thing is keeping you and your family safe. House fires can be unpredictable and you don’t want to get caught in the thick of it for going back in to retrieve items.
  6. Store your valuables. Keep valuable items in a fire-resistant container like a safe. The last thing you need to worry about during a fire is going to find the box or bag of sentimental photos, documents, or items that you don’t want to lose.

Items to keep in a Liberty Safe for protection

As told by the Blevins’ fire story, there are many items you can keep in a Liberty Safe, beyond just guns, in the event of a natural disaster or fire. There may even be items that you haven’t thought about storing before. Here’s a list of items you may want to consider storing in your Liberty Safe:

  • Photos. Family photos, baby photos, wedding photos, graduation photos, you name it. Any hard copies of photos that you may have and want to preserve can be stored securely in your safe.
  • Electronics and digital files. Maybe you have digital copies of important documents or memories on flash drives or hard drives.
  • Important documents. Things like social security cards, passports, birth certificates, and other important documents can be stored in your safe.
  • Jewelry. If you have sentimental jewelry that’s been passed down from parents or grandparents or other small jewelry items that you don’t frequently wear and want to keep safe, store them in your safe.
  • Clothing items and blankets. Some people like to hold onto their child’s first baby blanket, a special sweater made by grandma, or other sentimental cloth items.
  • Other things of value to you. There really isn’t a limit (other than size) as to what can be stored in your safe. If you hold something dearly that you don’t want to lose in a fire, you can store it in your safe.

More information about Liberty Safes

Liberty Safes were designed with you in mind. We want to provide our customers with the peace of mind they deserve when they purchase a safe from us. At Liberty Safe, each of our home and gun safes comes with certified fire protection and additional security measures to ensure the protection of your valuable items.

If you’re interested in learning more or would like to browse and shop our selection of home safes, you can look here for more information.


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