When a fire occurs, it can be an extremely stressful and overwhelming situation which can affect our thinking process in terms of what to do and what not to do.
We have compiled below a list of what you should never do in a fire, what you should do instead, as well as how to prevent fires in the future.
5 things you should never do in a fire
The dangers of a fire go without saying and everybody knows that you need to escape as soon as possible, but not everybody knows that there are some very important things you should avoid doing in order to keep yourself and others safe in a fire.
1. Breaking windows
The majority of deaths related to fires are actually caused by smoke inhalation rather than the heat of the fire itself, in fact Michigan State University reported that 50% of people who suffer from severe smoke inhalation die. Knowing this, it can be tempting to break open windows to allow the smoke to billow out of the building, but this is the wrong thing to do.
Breaking open windows allows the fire to gain more access to oxygen which helps the fire grow, which would greatly decrease your chances of escape. By keeping the windows closed you are starving the fire as much as possible.
It is much better to use the precious moments you have when a fire occurs to find an escape route.
2. Opening hot doors
When attempting to find a way to escape a fire, you might not be considering what could be on the other side of the doors you come across, which is why you should always try to be cautious.
Doors that are very hot to the touch or have smoke billowing through the cracks will more than likely have a fire on the other side. This means that the door is actually holding the fire back and opening it would only allow the fire to spread. If you find a door that you believe to be safe, open it, but always do so cautiously, with the awareness that it could be dangerous on the other side.
3. Returning for your belongings
Everyone was told in school at one point or another that they should leave all of their stuff and get out when there is a fire, and it is absolutely true. You may think that you have time to grab a few things, but it can take just 5 minutes for a house to become engulfed in flames.
Items are replaceable and nothing is worth more than your life, so your priority should always be getting out as quickly as possible.
When you’re scared and panicking, you might not know what to do and hide away from the fire for some semblance of safety, but that can be incredibly dangerous. It limits movement and makes it harder for you to be found when rescue services arrive.
Furthermore, you may think you’re safe from the fire if you can’t see it, but the smoke and heat can be even more dangerous and can reach you wherever you are. Ready reports that fires can reach up to 100 degrees at floor level and 600 degrees at eye level, which can result in severe lung burns.
5. Do not use lifts
It might be tempting to take the lift during a fire because it seems to be the quicker option in escaping, but in reality, it can actually end up being much more dangerous. Fire damage could short-circuit the lift at any time, meaning the doors could open at any time. Or, if power is lost, you could end up stuck in the lift.
The lift shaft also acts as a natural chimney and fills with smoke, which means that the lift itself can very quickly fill with smoke as well and anyone inside would choke. Stairs are always the better, safer option.
What you should do in the event of a fire
Now that you know what not to do in the event of a fire, it’s time to take a look at what you should do, and the steps to take that could save your life.
Use the appropriate fire extinguisher
There are 6 different types of fire, all of which can be put out differently. It’s useful to know what kind of extinguisher puts out which kind of fire so that you are able to diffuse the situation quickly and safely.
Be sure to aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire and sweep from side to side to ensure that you reach all of the fire. Check out our blog article How to Safely Use a Fire Extinguisher (and Get the Relevant Training) to learn more and be ready to quickly put out a fire.
Call the emergency services
If the fire begins to grow and you’re unsure how to deal with it, do not delay in calling the emergency services as every second counts. You should try to decide as quickly as possible whether you can extinguisher the fire and if there’s any doubt, call the emergency services. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Escaping might sound like an obvious tip, but as we mentioned earlier, staying and hiding is not safe and shouldn’t be an option.
During a fire, you should be able to follow emergency exit signs to find the nearest escape route. The quicker you get out, the better, as inhaling smoke can cause unseen damage, even if you’re not near the fire.
How to prevent fires in the future
Prevention is always key, as you don’t want a fire to begin in the first place as opposed to having to tackle one when it occurs. Below are the best ways to prevent a fire from happening in the first place.
Carry out a fire risk assessment
If you are part of an organisation, you must have a fire risk assessment as a legal requirement. A fire risk assessment aims to identify where there is a risk of a fire starting and the most efficient escape routes.
A risk assessment is the best tool in being prepared for fire as it can predict where a fire might start before it happens, knowing this, you can take the appropriate steps to make sure it never happens.
Learn more about how we can assist with fire risk assessments here.
Install fire alarm systems
Fire alarms are your first defence if a fire breaks out, they will signal to you that there is a danger at a time when you might have missed it. They will give you the chance to assess the situation and escape if necessary. Either way, you will know to act before it’s too late.
We supply and install a wide range of fire alarm systems, learn more here.
Know what to do in the heat of the moment
It can be difficult not to panic if you’re faced with such a scary situation but if you’re well-prepared, it shouldn’t be something that you spend time worrying about.
If you are interested in hiring a professional risk assessor, essential fire safety equipment or anything else we have mentioned above, contact us here.
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