Tips To Stay Safe During A House Fire
Tips To Stay Safe During A House Fire
React when you hear your smoke alarm. If you hear your smoke detector or alarm going off, get out of bed, wrap yourself in a blanket if there’s one
handy and get the heck out of there! Shoes or slippers are a good idea if they are handy, but do not take the time to tie your shoes.
USE THE DOOR
If your door is open and there is a fire preventing you from exiting the room, close the door to protect yourself from the fire, and follow the “hot door” procedures below. Otherwise, treat it as a “cool door”.
FEEL FOR HEAT
If your door is closed, feel it for heat with the back of your hand.
STAY LOW TO THE GROUND
If you feel down towards the bottom of the door and it is really cool, that’s good. Open it slowly and take a look at the conditions on the other side. If there is a lot of smoke and it’s banked up towards the ceiling area, stay lower to the ground and crawl to get yourself out. If you are able to get out, also go through and yell for other people to get out of the house. Wake everyone up, get the kids out of bed, and get outside as quickly as you can.
KNOW A SECOND WAY OUT
If you feel the door and it is hot, there is a lot of heat on the other side. Do not open it; use a second way out. If there is no safe door, go over a the window and try to get out of the house that way.
HAVE AN ESCAPE PLAN
Know what to do if your exit is blocked by fire. You should always have two means of exiting the building. If you cannot get out the front door, what are the secondary escape routes? Think about whether it is a window or a different door. You should always make an escape plan with your family.
HAVE AN ESCAPE LADDER
Escape from a second story window. If you have a two-story house, you should have an escape ladder that you can throw out in case a fire or other problem happens.
GET TO WHERE PEOPLE CAN SEE YOU
If you are trapped in your second story room in the event of a fire, do what you can to get yourself to an area where people will be able to hear you or see you. You can take a sheet or something else – white preferably – and hang it out the window to signify that you need help when the first responders get there. Be sure to close the window — leaving it open draws the fire towards the fresh oxygen. Put something down to prevent the smoke from coming underneath the door, such as a towel or anything that you can find.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SMOKE INHALATION
Take a t-shirt or a rag and wet it. Place it over your nose and mouth. This will only buy you a minute or so, which is not a lot of time, but it does help to filter those products of combustion which lead to smoke inhalation. Smoke inhalation causes people to become disoriented and can even render a person unconscious. Knowing this, you should cover your nose and mouth if you have to walk by or through a heavily smoke-filled room.
The most important rule, before all else, is to stay low! Hot smoke, be it toxic, scorching, or both, rises so keeping close to the floor can help you avoid inhaling or being burnt by smoke that might have already entered the room. If the room is clear of smoke then you may stand but be careful upon entering any new space to avoid the same danger.
HAVE AN ESCAPE PLAN FOR EVERY ROOM
In a fire, it is often impossible to get from one part of a dwelling to another. Consequently, every member of the household MUST know how to get out of every room in the place even if the usual doors are inaccessible.
STOP, DROP, ROLL, COVER
If you are on fire “stop, drop, and roll AND cover your face”.
CHECK SMOKE DETECTORS
Make sure your smoke detectors work. A good way to remember is to change your batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings (in areas that do that).
REPLACE SMOKE DETECTORS EVERY 5 YEARS
Make sure you test your smoke detectors regularly! They should be changed every 5 years. Don’t go back inside.
HAVE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
Have safety equipment maintained and in easily found locations, including fire extinguishers and safety ladders (and know how to use them). Have all extinguishers checked regularly (once a year is good) and replace if defective.
USE THE BACK OF YOUR HAND TO TEST HEAT
Feeling a door for heat: Use the back of your hand to feel a door for heat, not the palm or fingers. The back of your hand has more nerve endings than your palm, allowing you to accurately determine the temperature of an object without actually contacting it. Also, doors can get hot enough to burn you without appearing very hot at all. You may later need to use your palms or fingers to help you escape.
Excellent post. Mostly good advice.
If the door is hot at all, or the hallway is smoke filled, and you have an easily accessible second way out, even if it is a window, use it. With the materials found in common household products being mostly plastic, read solid oil, the intensity of fire and fire spread is so rapid today that it may change so fast that you get caught and die attempting to escape. Hydrogen cyanide is a common combustion by-product and it lingers long after the fire has been extinguished, carbon monoxide is another. Both are incredibly toxic and deadly in the right quantities.
Flashover, the state of the fire spread where everything in a room is heated to its ignition temperature and they all burst in to flames simultaneously, is occurring much early than when homes had natural fiber interior finishings. Temperatures in a modern house fire easily exceed 1000 degrees F and temps over 1500 degree F are entirely realistic today.
I have to say, in my opinion, that the only way I would wrap myself in a blanket is if it were made of natural fibers, particularly wool. Synthetics melt and would just add to your misery from burns.
If you close your door, and no smoke is infiltrating the room, it probably would be okay to open your window to make it easier to be spotted and to breath. If you think you are going to pass out try not to position yourself right under the window sill. Remember those coming in to rescue you will be coming through that window to get you and if they have to move you before they come in it simply adds to your exposure time to heat and smoke. Be close to the window so you are easy to find, but not in the entry way.
Have a meeting place outside for your family to gather at so you can take a head count and know for sure who is out. Report this information to the first arriving fire truck officer. Believe me it makes a difference how we do things if we know everyone is out versus knowing someone is still inside. If someone is inside yet, firefighters and equipment primarily focus on the rescue attempt and suppressing the fire may be given less resources initially. If everyone is out then the resources all go to extinguishing the fire as rapidly as possible. If you can identify who is missing and then tell the fire officer their most likely location that can save a ton of time finding them.
Smoke detectors and Caron monoxide detectors do indeed wear out and we go on plenty of CO detectors sounding that are malfunctioning because the are worn out. Replacing them in a timely manner may just save your life.
I have a love/hate relationship with fore extinguishers and the reason is the instructions on everyone of them is wrong. the first instruction should say "CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT!" The number of fires every year that get out of hand because people wait to call the fire department is simply unacceptable. Call first, or get some one else to call while you use the extinguisher. When i teach non-firefighters how to use extinguishers I always tell them this: 1) If the extinguisher is having no effect on the fire it is time to leave, 2) If you are having difficulty breathing it is time to leave, 3) If you are having trouble seeing it is time to leave. You are not expected to die using a fire extinguisher.
Good advice on the using the back of your hand. We add in the fire training world that there is always the possibility that wiring overhead had fallen on the door knob on the other side and electrified the door knob. Using the back of your hand the natural muscle reaction is for the hand to close and pull away, if you use your palm and your hand closes you may be stuck to the door knob.
My last addition would be this, if you live in the rural have the fire chief come out and do a walk around with you on your property. he doesn't have to go into any buildings but the look around to see if there is room for fire apparatus to maneuver and work, if there is an alternative water supply like a pond or river, trees, terrain and anything else pertinent may make the difference in saving your home or out buildings in case of fire.
Excellent post BlackBlade. I hope you don't mind my additional comments from a firefighter's perspective.
Very good post, informative, thank you guys..
My plans are to smash my bedroom window, heave my guns out, leap. After that, it is every man for himself.
Grab my cats if I have time..
Very good advice from all,, I pray to God ,, none of you ever have to face that. After being a firefighter for >33 years, now retired,, I've seen some situations that were very bad that could have been avoided by following proper egress procedures. A house fire is never a good thing, and if it has a good start,, you'll never put it out by you're self, no matter what you may think. Unless you have the turn out gear and a 2" hose on stock,,, and the training to handle it,,, you're in trouble. Even then it would be a sketchy move!
Not just the loss of people God forbid.. But look around your home, picture everything you own gone.. Non replaceable..
Strong history here of Irish Firefighters in Connecticut.. Dating back too the early 1900s. My Grandfather drove the second to last horse drawn fire engine in New Haven.. With 14 kids in the family. They used to go too the station and drive him nuts.. Ring the bell and the horses would run too the engine..
Lot of ass whippings..
The Dalmatian dog was not for show.. It ran along side the horse drawn engine to scare away the neighborhood dogs, protecting his horses.
God Bless Americas Firefighters.. :salute:
I bought my own fire engine last year. It has hoselines on it, firefighting tools. ladders, and self contained breathing apparatus. I didn't necessarily buy it to use where I live now for fire protection, mostly for parades and a hobby. I did buy it for protecting my home when I move to a MUCH more rural territory.
I am a 36 year firefighter, career and volunteer, as well as an EMT. I guess that would be my specialty if I belonged to a prepper colony.
Built himself a pumper set up to pull with his tractor.. Good idea..
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