How to survive a fire in your home.
Picture the scenario. Your family are all tucked up in bed. You retired about an hour ago and you’re just in that half asleep half awake state. You’re disturbed by a noise – an alarm. Is it a house alarm – someone’s car alarm – where’s it coming from?
You’re slightly confused – a little disorientated. Then you realise – the alarm is in your house and it’s your smoke alarm!
On discovering a fire…
MOST IMPORTANT-DON’T PANIC…. CALL THE EMERGENCY SERVICES STRAIGHT AWAY.
If you can’t get to a phone then scream or shout out of the window to attract attention. This isn’t a time to be shy or reserved, and every second counts.
Give the operator clear instructions of where you are, the type of building you are trapped in, and your location (front, rear, first floor etc). This will give the fire fighters a crucial advantage in getting to you without wasting time looking around trying to locate where you are trapped.
Here’s how to survive a fire…step by step…
Step 1. Get everyone out of the area where the immediate fire has started. This might sound obvious, but getting all the occupants together in another area away from the fire is crucial to everyone’s survival rate.
Step 2. If you’re in a room that has windows, open them immediately to let out smoke and stay low to the ground. Smoke rises and the majority of fire related deaths occur from smoke inhalation.
Step 3. If you have water and a cloth or towel available, wet the cloth and hold it against your face. This will help prevent inhaling smoke into your lungs whilst you’re trying to escape.
Step 4. Fire spreads rapidly so when trying to move from room to room, make sure the door handle isn’t warm or check the door panel with the back of your hand. A warm door can be an indication that the fire is on the other side.
Step 5. If you are in a place that has an elevator as well as stairs then always try to use the stairs to escape the building where possible. An elevator may malfunction during a fire.
Step 6. Where possible try to make exiting via a window your last resort. If you are forced to go out via a window then don’t jump. Lower yourself by your arms as far as possible and allow yourself to drop.
Pushing mattresses or cushions out through the window has very limited if negligible effect, and may even hinder the rescue team from reaching you if the window frame is blocked.
If you really have no means of escape, it’s better to block all areas that smoke can seep through, such as wall vents and under the door. Open all windows that you can, even if you have to smash the glass, and wait until trained the fire service reaches you.
Have an escape plan…
Having an escape plan in advance is always the best policy for ensuring everyone gets out to safety.
It doesn’t need to be complicated, just communicated so everybody knows what to do and where to go if a fire does break out in the home.
Also, it doesn’t just apply to the home. All commercial premises, hotels, guest houses, hostels etc are required by law to to display emergency escape information.
Familiarise yourself with it, and communicate it to your family.
Going back to the home, make children fire aware and savvy. Make it fun to show them the escape route and how to open windows in an emergency.
Ensure everybody knows where keys are kept for getting out through a locked door or window, and teach children how to call the emergency services and to know what their home address is.
Having everybody safety and escape aware will make the difference between surviving a fire or perishing…
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