If you are like me then having batteries in your smoke detectors makes you feel quite safe and prepared to handle a home fire. Being overzealous I’d even purchased two fire extinguishers; although my family had never practiced or even talked about fire drills. In the past I’ve been fortunate not to have been involved with a burning house; the closest I’ve come was an old shed that was accidentally burned down while burning fields. The ferocity and speed of which that out building was consumed was awe inspiring. Here are some facts I’ve recently learned that you may find shocking in regards to home fires.
- A fire is reported approximately every 16 seconds.
- I fire can double in size every 30 seconds.
- The fire detector you have is likely an ionized detector. These detectors have a 55.8% probability of failure; and they typically don’t go off in time to save lives. The slightly more expensive optical fire detector will give you little better results. Don’t believe this? Check out the manufactures warranty; in summary it’s going to tell you not to rely on this item to detect any kind of fire.
- Your ionized detector that reacts so beautifully to the white smoke from food, even canned smoke, will typically not react to the black nastiness that comes from a house on fire. Just because the shower and fried bacon set of the alarm doesn’t mean it will perform adequately with a real emergency. It may not make sense but it is true; it has to do with particle size, density, and consistency.
- While homes 30 years ago might take 10 or 15 minutes to fully go up in flames; with our abundance of synthetic products utilized for building and furnishing our homes means that if I fire were to hit you tonight you would likely have between 2 and 4 minutes to get out of your home.
- Most people killed in home fires are found in their beds or on a couch. Asphyxiation from the fire consuming oxygen will likely render you unconscious before the fire gets you. In a fire you can die from super-heated air, oxygen depletion, smoke inhalation, toxic gasses, and of course the flames them self. The oxygen depletion, assuming you are conscious, will leave you as sharp and reactive as a drunk; and everyone knows how well they react to emergencies.
- In order of precedence this is where your fire is most likely to start: kitchen, utility room/water heater closet, laundry room, bedroom, family room, garage, attic, and bathroom.
- While the air is just over 100 degrees at the floor, it can be over 900 degrees at eye level, and 1200 Degrees along the ceiling. Meaning that you may be able to crawl and only suffer from toxic fumes, but if you stand and take a breath you scorch your lungs and die that way instead.
- 80% of fires are started as electric fires; so don’t over load power strips, unplug things that are no immediately being used, and such.
How do we mitigate the threat? The fire extinguisher in your garage is a good start, but what good does it do you when you are trying to vacate a bedroom? Do you at least shake the extinguisher every few months or hit it with a rubber mallet to keep the powder from caking and settling?
For fire extinguishers make sure you have a quality product without plastic fittings. A home fire extinguisher that is worthwhile will probably run you about 60 dollars a piece; and will give you about 30 seconds of spray time. Remember the acronym P.A.S.S. (Pull, Aim at the base, Spray, Sweep).
Do you have a plan that is rehearse at least every 6 months with all household members? Do you have a preplanned rally point for accountability so firefighters don’t risk loss of life for someone that might be safe?
From Lancaster Online “During the ‘Fires Hurt … Red Cross Helps’ awareness campaign, the American Red Cross is urging Central Pennsylvania residents to take some simple steps to help minimize the risk for this type of devastating disaster:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside of sleeping areas; check them monthly by pressing the test button.
- Create a fire escape plan, identifying two escape routes from every room of your home, and designate a meeting place a short distance from the home where family members can meet should they be separated during a fire.
- Practice your escape plan at least twice a year, paying particular attention to children or older adults who may require extra time and care.”
There are many things to consider when coming up with a plan; like avoiding a fire in the first place. But if are subject to such devastation then the best plan is the one that gets you out of the house at the earliest possible time is the best; remember that you likely only have 3 minutes.
When you purchase fire safety equipment, like any safety products; you get what you pay for. If your smoke detector cost you a buck fifty; expect a buck fifty’s worth of performance. Don’t let yourself be lured into a false sense of security; but preparedness is a step by step process, like any other type of preparedness. Detectors that are guaranteed to work might run you over 300 dollars apiece; so you get one here and there as the money becomes available. If you look online or visit with your local fire department there is an abundant amount of information to draw from that could all help in an emergency. The more informed and prepared you are the better your piece of mind will be.
Because you likely won’t be killed by the fire make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors. Most installation manuals will have you set them 4.5 to 5.5 feet up the wall.
Don’t store any type of paints or accelerants out of your furnace room as this is a massive fire hazard.
And lastly, do not call 911 until you are out of the house! Every second matters.
We had a friend who shared some valued information with us, and while this might come across as a sales pitch, I want everyone to know that I will receive no promotions, money, or free products by sharing this information. But I care enough to want to give people I do and don’t know a heads up that might make the difference between life and death. In fact, far apart from making money, I’ve only paid money for a good product. Check out this site; I’ve never seen a better track record or more reliable products. Their staff is one of the easiest to get along with and straightforward groups of people I’ve worked with.
Please take a look at http://rockymountainfamilyfire.com/
Because knowledge and experience are power I hope you will share information.