No one wants to get caught in a fire, of course. Unfortunately, events leading to that emergency are sometimes out of our control. So what to do what to do in a fire? And no less important – What not to do? Read and remember these fire safety tips to be always ready.
First and most important things To Do in a fire
1. Stay Calm
Do not panic. Yes, fire can be scary and even terrifying but it is utmost important to keep calm. Any emergency and especially home fires require a clear thinking. Staying composed will help you make the right decisions (like identifying viable emergency exits) and avoid mistakes. It all starts with you, how you handle the initial stress.
2. Extinguish the fire if you can
If the fire is small and does not pose immediate threat to your life or to others around you – use fire extinguishing means to put it down. A simple example of such a non-critical situation would be a cigarette bun falling on the floor and the carpet starting to smolder. This is indeed a situation you are most likely capable of handling yourself. Simply pour some water on the carpet and think about cleaning. But if the flames are already visible and strong or the smoke is in a place you cannot reach – don’t waste your time. Move on to the next step.
3. Call emergency. While escaping
Call 9-1-1 in US/Canada (or 1-1-2 if in Europe). It will take only a few seconds to get on the line with a trained specialist who will ask you for your address and start giving you instructions on what to do next. The fire fighter brigade will be on their way to your location right away. Moreover, you can do this while making your way out of the house, flat etc. If for some reason you can’t get to the phone – escape on your own. This is one of the reasons you should always think about the escape route from the premise beforehand.
4. Save yourself, not your belongings
This can be a life and death situation. Always put your life and lives of others before any material assets. You can always replace them later. Health and lives are irreplaceable. If you do have a chance – take your documents first. It will help you deal with the consequences of the fire later on. But if you have any doubts about the time you have – don’t take any risk, be on your way out.
5. Stay out and away from fire.
When you are already out of the house, flat etc. keep your distance and do not go back. Even if the fire seems to be small, it can change in a matter of seconds. Fire may often start slowly, but this also makes it hard to detect. After it does get stronger – it takes only a few minutes before the whole house is set ablaze. According to American Red Cross organization those caught in fire may only have 2 minutes to escape. This means you simply have no time to go back. Big chance that by this time firefighters will arrive and deal with it professionally.
Things NOT to Do in a fire emergency
1. Do not panic.
This is the first and most important thing. We cannot stress enough how vital it is. Read the first paragraph of the list above one more time.
2. Do not try to put down the fire on your own.
If the flames are already strong and clearly visible, or there is a lot of smoke – do not try to fight the fire by yourself. Especially if you don’t have a fire extinguisher and other appropriate means. Even if the flame seems not dangerous but it takes you more than 20-30 seconds to put it down immediately – leave the house through the safest passage as soon as possible.
3. Do not take the elevator.
Even if you are in a multi-storey apartment – always use the stairs to get out of the building. Or use a fire escape if the house has it. This is the exact information you need to know about the place you are in. And this is why you should not panic, cause you need to remember not to take an elevator during a fire emergency. Never! People get trapped inside broken or malfunctioning elevators.
4. Do not forget the rule of “Stop Drop and Roll / Crawl”
If your clothes got caught on fire, do not run aimlessly. You need to stop, drop on the ground and roll around. Pressing the burning part to the ground will limit the oxygen supply to the flames and often extinguish fire completely. When running you actually increase the oxygen supply making the fire stronger.
The “Crawl” part of the rule means that you should crawl while escaping the running house or building with heavy smoke. The smoke will be pushed up and rise, leaving the clearer air closer to the ground. This will leave you the opportunity to breath. However, it is still a good idea to press wet towel or other clothing to your nose, as it will filter additional smoke.
5. Do not use water to extinguish electrical fires
Never fight fires caused by electrical faults with water. If you pour water on an electrical fire, it can very well conduct electricity causing you suffer from an electric shock or being electrocuted.
Even though firefighting is getting more effective every year with new technology and new knowledge it is still extremely dangerous. Numerous lives are lost every day to fires. And while fire brigades are always coming to rescue it is up to each of us to prepare for such emergencies and conduct calmly in those situations. As the old saying says: “God helps those who help themselves”. Stay safe!