Every year, fires claim a lot of lives and injure more. In 2011 alone, there were1,389,500 fires reported in the country. These incidents caused over 3,000 deaths, 17,500 injuries and $11.7 billion in property damage. In short, one home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds. There are no natural warnings that will signal a fire unless you regularly check your fire alarm system. You can prepare by having several exits, installing smoke detectors and informing your family what to do during a fire. In case you find yourself in the worst scenario, here are a few things you should remember in order to survive a fire.
1. There are different things that might warn you of fire. Alarm systems with smoke detectors and cameras are great investments as these can alert you before the fire spreads. Smoke, the smell of burning wood or plastic or even pets behaving oddly may signal a fire. Once you are sure that you are in danger, alert all adults in the house. Avoid scaring the children or the elderly. Panic can kill as much as the fire. Quickly locate the nearest exit and head for it. Fires can spread in a few seconds.
2. Try to breathe as little smoke as possible. If you can, wet your shirt or a towel and cover your nose and your mouth. Certain household chemicals, plastic, and some types of wood produce toxic fumes that can quickly suffocate you. Heated smoke is usually lighter than air creating a breathable pocket of air on the ground. Keep your mouth and nose as low on the ground as possible. Continue crawling to the nearest exit.
3. If you need to go through a door for an exit, do not immediately open it. Check the gap under the door. If there is smoke coming out, do not open the door. Also, use the back of your hand to check if the door is hot. There is a big chance that the other side of the door is already on fire. Opening the door will add oxygen to the fire and will create a flash that will burn you. If possible, cover the gap with cloth and head to another exit, preferably a window.
4. Make sure to make plenty of noise if you can. There is a chance that someone is stuck and might need some help. Also, smoke blocks the view of firefighters. They may be just a few feet away, but if they cannot see you, they won’t be able to help you.
5. If you find yourself needing to jump from the higher floors of your house, if you can, drop cushions of bedding to the ground to break your fall. Get yourself out of the window feet first. Make sure that you have a secure footing or you can hold on to something stable. Accidentally falling will only worsen your injuries. Lower yourself to the full length of your arms before dropping.
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