Do everything you can to protect your family from the dangers of a house fire.
Our country is virtually plagued by a dwelling fire every fifty seconds.Credit: cityofalbertlea.org
The statistics are horrendous for the loss of life and injuries that are caused by these fires.Â One third of the victims are children under the age of fourteen.
Smoke â€“ The Real Killer
Smoke, not flames, is the real killer in a fire.Â Actually, very few persons burn to death.Â The vast majority (as many as 80%) are asphyxiated by toxic fumes long before flames every touch them.Â Many corpses are hauled out without a burn mark on them.
Fire is most likely to attack you when youâ€™re asleep.Â You canâ€™t count on the smell of smoke to wake you, and even if it does you may have inhaled so much of it that you can only stumble into the hallway before you drop unconscious.
It is a must to have smoke detectors in all bedrooms and throughout your home.Â Not only should you have these, you must test them regularly and make sure they are working correctly.Â The deaths caused by home fires have gone down in proportion to the workingÂ smoke detectors that have been installed in the recent years.
Your bedroom door is the most effective barrier against the insidious workings of fire.Â That slab of wood, any fireman will tell you, is a lifesaving wall between yourself and fire.Â Tests have shown that an ordinary bedroom door will hold back heat and lethal gases, giving you 5 to 11 minutes to escape.
Too often, however, a person smelling smoke commits the tragic act of flinging open the door, and is hit by a blast of hot air and fumes.Â If you suspect fire in your home, never open a bedroom door without first check to see if it is warm.Â Feel the door and the door handle for heat.
If possible, escape out of a bedroom window.Â If escape is not possible, stuff a small rug, sheet, towels, or clothing around the cracks of the door to keep the smoke out and wait to be rescued.
YOUR FIRST IMPULSE IN FIRE SHOULD ALWAYS BE TO ESCAPE.
Drill this course into your familyâ€™s heads.Â You would think that everyoneâ€™s instinct would be to flee from a burning building, but unfortunately, that isnâ€™t the case.
Children will often make no attempt to escape at all.Â They will lock themselves in closets or hide under beds and rugs, waiting for someone to rescue them.Â They will often try to get to their parentsâ€™ bedroom instead of going outside.Â Even adults have refused to follow firemen to safety and have had to be dragged out bodily.Â
No matter how insignificant a fire seems, evacuate everyone immediately.Â After everyone has been removed from the house, attempt to call the fire department from a neighborâ€™s home or your cell phone.Â Do not take the risk of trying to go back into your home to make the call.
Life is more precious than property, and in fire you seldom can save both.
HOW TO PUT OUT A FIRE
If a fire breaks out in your home should you try to put it out?Â In some cases, of course you should, depending on the size of the fire, the amount of toxic smoke it is generating, and how fast you can put out the flames.Â
Immediate action has kept many homes still standing.Â If you have firefighting equipment, such as a fire extinguisher, ready for action, you may be able to save your house with quick action.
In any event, always notify the fire department immediately; even if you think have extinguished the fire.Â Beating down the flames is one thing, but you cannot always guarantee that you have completely extinguished every last breath of the fire.Â There have been many instances when small flare-ups will occur and totally destroy the building after the homeowner thought it was out.
Fire can seep into walls and burn merrily, although you think you have put it out.Â A burning mattress, although bombarded with water, has been known to smolder for hours.
THE NEED FOR A FIRE EXTINGUISHER
If a fire starts in an electrical appliance or wiring, or in grease or in flammable liquids, you need a fire extinguisher to put it out.Â Water will not work.Â
Do not buy a cheap extinguisher.Â Invest in one that has been approved by Underwriterâ€™s Laboratories.Â
In an average house, one extinguisher on the kitchen wall may be sufficient.Â In larger, single story houses an additional extinguisher should be kept near the bedrooms. Two story houses need one on each floor and there should always be one in a basement.
HOOK UP YOUR OWN FIRE HOSE
Although you cannot be without an extinguisher in case of an electrical or flammable liquid fire, when it comes to an ordinary combustible fire like wood, paper, or fabric, no concoction is so potent as just plain water.
The best piece of fire-fighting equipment you can have in your house is a garden hose.
To be effective, one hose should be installed on each floor of the house.Â Install one under the bathroom sink and the utility room where it can be unwound quickly to reach all rooms, especially the bedrooms.
Every family head should carefully assess the possibilities of fire in the home in order to eliminate all the hazards and to exactly plan the steps to be taken if a fire breaks out.
Personal Story from the Author:
When I was in junior high school my mother was home alone making homemade donuts and chili.Â She had the chili bubbling away in a pot on the gas kitchen stove.Â This was before electric deep fat fryers and so she had a heavy cast-iron frying pan filled with cooking oil to deep-fry the donuts.Â As she went to remove the pan of oil from the stove, the steam from the chili hit her tender forearm and she dropped the pan of oil, splattering oil and flames all over the stove
She ran outside and grabbed the garden hose that was hooked up just outside the kitchen door, turned it on, and ran back into the kitchen spraying the fire with the cold water.Â Big mistake!Â The water spread the oil all over the kitchen and it was just seconds before the fire was out of control and our home burned to the ground.Â
Had she known, she should have grabbed the canister of flour sitting nearby and threw it on the fire to extinguish the flames and probably could have put the fire out before it did much damage to the rest of the house.Â
Knowing what to do in the event of a fire will arm you with life-saving protection.