More people are killed in fires than all other natural disasters combined. In fact, each year there are over 5,000 fire related deaths, 25,000 injuries and over $9 billion dollars lost in direct property damage. Fire safety is not something we think about much, often we do not think about it until it is too late even though over 80% of fire deaths occur in the home. Proper education and pre-fire planning can help in the prevention of most of these tragedies.
The first step in fire safety is understanding exactly what fire is…
The definition of FIRE is: A rapid chemical reaction that gives off energy and products of combustion that are very different in composition from the fuel and oxygen that combined to produce them. That is the book definition, but what does all this mean? First of all, one thing to remember is that fire is very fast, it can evolve from a small flame into a major blaze in as little as 30 seconds. Only minutes after that, an entire house can be filled with thick black smoke. The most important thing to remember if you awake to a fire: there is no time to grab valuables, there is only time to escape.
How hot is fire? Everyone knows that it is hot, but just how hot can it be? Room temperatures in a fire can range from 100 degrees at floor level, all the way up to 600 degrees at eye level. A fires heat alone is enough to kill, this heat can scorch your lungs in one single breath while melting your clothes to your skin. In only 5 minutes a fire can become so hot and intense that a flashover occurs which will simultaneously ignite everything in the room. A fires heat is much more threatening than the flames themselves.
Is there something more deadly in a fire than the heat and flames? Yes there is, smoke inhalation causes more fire related deaths than the flames and heat do. The smoke uses up oxygen necessary for breathing and replaces it with toxic gasses that can quickly make you drowsy and disoriented, this causes a person to pass out before they are able to find an escape. Also, the smoke fire produces is so dark and spreads so quickly that it becomes impossible to find your way around even the most familiar room