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10 Tips for Preventing and Responding to Fire at a Historic Home

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These 10 tips will help you avoid a fire at your historic house, or, at the very least, prevent additional damage after a fire strikes.

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10 Tips for Preventing and Responding to Fire at a Historic Home

  1. 1. 10 Tips for PREVENTING AND RESPONDING TO FIRES AT HISTORIC HOMES
  2. 2. 1. Do a fire inspection. Conduct your own fire prevention check. Make sure there are appropriate safety measures in place such as fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers nearby.
  3. 3. 2. Take extra holiday precautions. During the holidays, be mindful of how you decorate and watch out for fire hazards such as tangled cords, overloaded outlets, or lights and candles kept too close to fabric or dry pine needles. Don’t forget to turn off those Christmas tree lights when you leave the house.
  4. 4. 3. Store documents in a fireproof safe. Keep your important paperwork, such as documents about the history of your property, in a fireproof safe. That way, if disaster does strike, you will have all the info you need for an accurate restoration.
  5. 5. 4. Know that every fire is different. The best step you can take to ensure your historic home is taken care of after a fire is to hire a professional. Contact your local or state preservation office for recommendations.
  6. 6. 5. Talk to the firemen. Tell the responders that your house is older or historic and any other information that might be helpful. This can keep them safe as well as mitigate damage to your home after the fire is out.
  7. 7. 6. Check for smoke, sparks, and embers. Once you’re allowed back inside your house, check the roof and each floor for smoke, sparks, or embers, and inspect for structural damage. Emergency responders should do this, but it’s a good idea to check again.
  8. 8. 7. Have systems checked. Get your heating, propane, and water systems tested before using them again after a fire. Fire can cause contamination, lead to dangerous chain reactions, or damage filters.
  9. 9. 8. Prevent further damage. Help prevent future damage post- fire—such as water infiltration from rain, snow, or ice—by covering roofs, windows, and doorways with temporary tarps.
  10. 10. 9. Brace unstable elements. Brace (or, if you can do so safely, remove) unstable building elements such as walls, ceilings, or chimneys. This will help prevent collapse and give you time while you wait for a professional or figure out next steps.
  11. 11. 10. Get the air flowing. Get air flowing throughout the house to remove residual smoke or fumes. Turn on fans and open windows. Take extra caution if there is loose ash or debris that could become harmful.
  12. 12. The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same in their own communities. For more information, visit SavingPlaces.org. Photos Courtesy: Damien Jeanmaire/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0; Bruno Girin/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0; Blake Burnet/Flickr/CC BY-2.0; Airman Magazine/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0; francesco scaramella/Flickr/CC BY-NC ND 2.0; Ken Mist/Flickr/CC BY-2.0; Mick Chester/Flickr/CC BY- ND 2.0; Kecko/Flickr/CC BY-2.0; Mark Lincoln/Flickr/CC BY-NC ND 2.0; nothingtoseehere/Flickr/CC BY-NC ND 2.0; Andrew/Flickr/CC BY-NC ND 2.0

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