A burning building is quite possibly one of the scariest events one could face. The increasing levels of heat, carbon dioxide and falling debris pose a number of health risks. The most common response to a burning building is to exit the building in a timely fashion, but what happens if you find yourself trapped or blocked by objects preventing your escape? It's not only important to know what to do during a fire, but it's also essential that you prepare yourself and family before a fire ever occurs. Most of us don't like to think of ourselves being in this situation, but it's a scary reality that does happen every once in a while. The reason could be man driven or just some terrible accident due to a gas leak. Whatever the cause, you need to follow these steps to keep yourself and those around you safe.
Before a fire: To-do checklist
- Make sure you assemble an evacuation action plan, and where you are going to meet your family members once outside the building. This is especially important in keeping track of those who have safely escaped the building, and those who may still be trapped inside. NEVER go back into a burning building to save anyone who you think may still be inside, this is the job of the fire department and disregarding this step may cost you your life.
- Make sure you don't overload any electrical outlets, as this may cause a fire.
- Make sure to keep all doorways, hallways and exits clear of obstacles. There is nothing worse then having the ability to leave a burning building, only to be trapped by objects preventing your escape. If your moving into a new home or apartment, make sure you develop a clear path for yourself in the event of an outbreak.
- Make sure you have a fire extinguisher within a close proximity no matter where you are. If you live in a relatively big home, then having two fire extinguishers is not a bad idea. If the fire is small enough and the fire extinguisher is close, you may have the opportunity to put it out before it turns into an outbreak.
- Never tamper with smoke detectors, fire alarms or fire extinguishers.
- Store all flammable products in a safe location, preferably outdoors; your bedroom would be the worst choice.
In the event of an outbreak: To-do list
- Contact your local fire department or police station IMMEDIATELY! Even if you think a fire is small enough to handle on your own with a fire extinguisher, you still need to contact your local emergency hot lines. What happens in the event when your fire extinguisher isn't enough to put the fire out, and the fire keeps growing? The time you spent keeping the fire at low levels, could give the fire department additional time to reach you.
- If there is a fire alarm nearby, PULL IT!
- If you hear a fire alarm, don't take it as a test, always act as if it's a real emergency.
- If you are enclosed in a room, always touch the door NOT the handle to see if it's warm. If it's not warm, you have the opportunity to leave and you should do so IMMEDIATELY!
- If you see smoke crawling under your door, try to place a piece of moist clothing or towel to block the smoke from coming in. The smoke itself will be a choking hazard and deprive yourself of oxygen. Giving yourself additional time could be the difference of having your life saved, or passing out on the floor.
- If you find yourself trapped in a room, keep the door closed and open all windows. Make sure you place some form of clothing hanging outside your window, preferably white. This will alert the fire department that there's someone in that room and will prioritize themselves to save you before trying to put out the fire.
- If you escaped the burning building, make sure to keep your distance. A burning fire can cause a gas leak or build up pressure in the piping system, which could result in an explosion. Don't ruin your chance for survival because you choose to stay up close. Always distance yourself and keep track of who you know. This will help the fire department determine if everyone has safely fled the building, or if there are still people trapped inside.