Today, mobile home fire safety has improved dramatically following the HUD Code and its subsequent improvements. Less flammable or more flammable retardant materials are used among other requirements. It seems to have been effective since mobile home fire fatality rates are now closing in on that of stick-built homes.
Mobile home fire safety
We mentioned that mobile homes nowadays have a whole string of requirements when it comes to fire safety. Many of these originate from the NFPA 501 rules. Here are just some of the more prominent ones:
- Factory installed fire alarms with 10-year battery life and backup batteries. These have to be placed in or adjacent sleeping rooms, the top of a staircase and in the basement.
- Provisions made especially for disabled people (such as the blind or death) in case of a fire.
- All mobile homes need to have at least two exit doors. These doors must be accessible from sleeping rooms.
- Kitchens must have mechanical ventilation systems.
As you can see, just by purchasing a HUD-certified home, you have already gone a long way to improve the safety of your home for you and your family. Most mobile home fire-related fatalities today occur in homes where occupants have tampered or removed some of these systems.
Here are some other steps you can take to stay one step ahead of any other potential problems:
- Regularly maintain and check your smoke/fire alarms. Also, make sure that you have enough smoke alarms. The minimum that the law demands might not be enough. At least all your sleeping room and kitchen should be covered as well as any other danger areas.
- Plan an escape route. As mentioned, you should have to exit doors. Plan the easiest and fastest escape routes for all the members of your family and make everyone practice it.
- Take care of any electrical problems. Although also improving, electrics tend to be another trouble area in mobile homes. Have certified electricians take a look at any problems as soon as possible, no matter how mundane.
- Always take care of your cooking. Unattended and switched on cooking appliances are the leading cause of accidents.
- Be careful where you place heaters. These are another regular culprit in starting fires.
- Always have a fire extinguisher present and keep it in working order. Few people realize that fire extinguishers need to be serviced every 6 years. New mobile homes must come with fire extinguishers according to HUD safety standards. Make sure everyone knows where yours is and how to operate it.
- Always know the emergency number of your local fire department or 911!
What to do during a fire
While it is natural for us to want to try and solve a problem at first, you should carefully weigh your options in case of a fire. Your fight or flight instincts will kick in immediately, but they shouldn’t control you. If the fire spread too fast or is already very intense, don’t try to fight it yourself! First, get yourself and your family out as soon as possible and then immediately call the fire department.
If the fire is widespread and there is a lot of smoke, stay as close to the ground as possible. You might even need to crawl your way out. Most people are incapacitated by the smoke before the fire gets to them. Being 12-14 inches off the ground is generally considered “safe.”
Before using any door, test its temperature by quickly touching the bottom. Doors (especially the handle) can rapidly heat up to such an extent that you might seriously burn yourself trying to open them.
Stop-drop-roll. If your clothes catch fire, you are better off dropping to the ground and attempting this maneuver than to try and tear them off.
While it’s a great idea to know what to do in case of a mobile home fire, it’s even better to prevent it before it starts. Read this article to learn about 5 common causes of mobile home fires. Keep your family safe by doing your homework and taking the necessary precautions.