(Modern Survival.org) – House fires are a common threat to Americans, more than many people realize. These emergencies are so common that in 2019, fire departments responded to a structure fire once every 93 seconds according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Should a fire break out in your home, do you know the first steps to take?
Dangers in a House Fire
Fire is chaotic, able to go from a small blaze to a raging inferno in a matter of seconds with the right fuel source. This factor makes house fires incredibly dangerous. According to ready.gov, there are multiple components to a fire in the home which make them deadly:
- Heat. The heat from a house fire can reach 100 degrees on the floor, and up to 600 degrees at eye level.
- Darkness. Despite the fact that fire creates light, it also creates thick sheets of black smoke, making it impossible to see.
- Smoke and gas. House fires create a toxic mixture of smoke and fumes that can disorient anyone breathing them. More people die from asphyxiation in house fires than to actual burns because of these gases.
Enact the Evacuation Plan
Once the smoke alarms begin to scream, it’s time to get out. Each member of the home should know the exits to every room in the house in case an exit is blocked by fire or smoke. If it’s nighttime, scream loudly enough to wake everyone and let them know the urgency of the situation.
While making an escape, here are some things to remember:
- Stay low. If the house is filling with smoke, stay low to the ground and crawl to safety if you have to. Smoke and heath will both rise, so try and stay below it.
- Test the door. Never open a door without testing the handle first. Heat on the other side of the door could make the handle scalding hot. If the handle is hot, or smoke is coming from the other side, find an alternate route out of the house. If you can open the door, be prepared to close it again quickly, should thick smoke be waiting on the other side.
- Avoid smoke inhalation. If you have to pass through an area filling with smoke, cover your mouth and nose with a piece of cloth such as a shirt or towel.
- No escape. If escape isn’t an option, close the door and cover all gaps with cloth or tape to keep the smoke from getting in. Call 911 and let them know you are trapped in a burning building.
If You Catch Fire
It is possible that clothing can catch fire while escaping. If this happens, remember the old adage stop, drop and roll. Lie flat on the ground, cover your face with your hands, and roll to extinguish the flames.
If another member of the household catches fire, they can do this too, or the flames can be put out by smothering them with a blanket.
Once everyone is a safe distance from the home, call 911 immediately. Tell the operator the situation and allow the firefighters to do their job once they arrive.
Safety is the number one priority during a house fire. Get everyone out, and do not go back into the burning building for any reason. This includes pets or memorabilia. Losing them in the fire may be horrible, but they aren’t worth risking your life.
House fires can be horrible, but recovering from them is much easier if your important documents survive. For information on how to keep these documents safe in a house fire, click here.
~Here’s to Your Survival!
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