Fire can destroy anyone's home. Fires are real, not just events in the news or movies. Most people have no idea how destructive a fire can be. Here are some facts that everyone should know.
Fire creates thick black smoke that makes it difficult to see. Smoke is more deadly than flames. The poisonous gases in the smoke can kill you. Many fire fatalities occur because people do not stay low and crawl under the smoke to a safe exit.
Most fires occur at night while people are sleeping. Many people suffocate without ever waking and realizing the fire danger Fire has intense heat. A fire can create extreme temperatures in a matter of seconds. These temperatures can cause severe burns rendering you unconscious.
Fire spreads rapidly. A home can be totally consumed in fire in less than five minutes. Working smoke alarms will provide an early warning of the problem, and a home fire escape plan will provide time to escape safely.
Get out quickly and safely. When the smoke alarm sounds, immediately start your escape. Do not try to gather possessions or pets.
Check the door. Stay low behind the door, reach up and feel the door and the door handle for heat.
If the door feels cool, brace yourself against the door and open it slowly. If it is safe, leave the building and go directly to your meeting place. If you encounter smoke, crawl low under the smoke. Cleaner air is down low, near the floor. Once you are out of the building, stay out. There is nothing more important in your house than you and your family. Go to the meeting place to make sure everyone is safe. Phone 9-1-1 or your local emergency number from a neighbour's house.
If the door feels warm, or you see smoke or flames on the other side of the door, shut the door, and use your second escape route. If you must escape from an upper story window of a multi-level home, make sure you have a safe way to reach the ground, such as a fire escape ladder.
If you are trapped, seal the openings around the door and vents with wet bedding or towels. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number and notify the fire department of your location. If it is safe to open a window and there is no smoke, open it to signal and yell for help.
There are some special situations to consider when developing and practicing your home fire escape plan.
- Older Adults: An older adult with restricted mobility should sleep on the ground floor. A special plan should be made to provide assistance to this person.
- Children: Infants and many young children will also need assistance when escaping from the home. A special plan should be made to provide assistance to them. All children should be taught the steps to follow when escaping from the home. They should be involved with making and practicing the family home fire escape plan.
- People with Physical Disabilities: Anyone with physical disabilities should have their bedroom on the ground floor. A special plan should be developed which provides assistance when escaping. If a family member has a hearing impairment, special smoke alarms are available.
- Public Buildings: Look for exit signs. Knowing your escape routes is important - even when shopping, visiting the library, or inside any public buildings. If you hear a fire alarm in a public building, follow any instructions given over the public address system or from adults working in the building. In a hotel, take your room key with you as you may encounter smoke and need to re-enter your room for safety.