Hopefully you’ll never have to experience a fire but if you do there are certain things you should NOT do. Fires are inflammatory situations as they are, so you needn’t put yourself in added danger. Some actions may seem like the right idea at the time but there’s the potential it’ll actually put you more at risk. You will also need to consider what measures you can take to prevent fires from happening in the first place. This blog gives you 8 things NOT to do in a fire (or before it).
1* NOT TO DO BEFORE A FIRE – Storing solvents and fuels inside the home comes with its obvious risks, regardless of whether there’s an approaching fire around the corner. The chemicals contained within most solvents are highly poisonous so keeping them in a place that should be the safest dwelling in the world comes with other unrelated dangers.
However it just so happens that solvents are also highly flammable. This means that the risk of a fire starting and growing throughout the building is maximised. If any of you have been watching Eastenders recently you’ll remember how one family (Alfie & Kat) suffered from a big house blaze. The fire was started with the intention to cause just enough damage to claim insurance; but after coming in contact with a box of solvents (hair products) it spiralled out of control.
Although this example is from a fictional television programme it does ring true for real life scenarios. Storing a large amount of perfumes, hair products and other flammable items within a domesticated area could mean the difference between a small house fire or a fierce uncontrollable blaze. So if you store solvents and fuels inside the home you may want to reconsider holding them in a separate and safer location.
2* NOT TO DO BEFORE A FIRE – Sparking up in bed may seem like a convenient and relaxing activity but apart from leaving an old smoky stench on your linen it harbours unnecessary risks. Smoking is a bad habit but smoking in bed is an even worst habit, and although you’re adamant you’ll be safe it may just open up the door for fires to ignite and spread across the boudoir.
Neglecting cigarettes which are left lit around the home is the most common cause for house fires and is the biggest killer. It’s not just in the bed where you have to be careful because leaving lit fags (even in ashtrays) by the sofa or curtains can become a catalyst for igniting fires. If you need a fag go outside or if you can’t be bothered to do that, hang out your window and make sure you throw it away or stub it out before you come away!
3* NOT TO DO DURING A FIRE – It’s kind of second nature to try and stop a fire by throwing water over it.. but not over a chip pan! You must remember that if a chip pan catches fire, pouring water over it will only inflame the situation and it’s likely to erupt into a huge explosive fire ball. This happens because water is heavier than oil and the water will force the oil to spill out creating a dangerous uproar.
Years ago there was an old wives tale that if a chip pan fire started you could tackle it by placing a tea towel under a tap, wringing it out and placing it over the rim of the pan. This advice has since been discredited and the done thing now is to remove yourself from the situation and call the fire department for professional help.
4* NOT TO DO DURING A FIRE – This may sound silly but people have caused themselves serious injuries from jumping out upstairs windows after discovering a fire. Unless the fire is dangerously raging or you can’t raise the alarm for help it is sometimes better to lock yourself in a safe room until the fire brigade arrives.
Flinging yourself out of the window can do more damage than good, so it’s important to try and completely assess the situation before you take drastic action. However if this is your last hope of getting out of the building you may of course be left with no choice. If you have spongy materials to soften the blow or some bed sheets to tie up to carefully manoeuvre down the building; the window escape could be a valid option.
5* NOT TO DO DURING A FIRE – It may seem like a useful way to pack all the inhabitants into one safe spot but escaping down a lift during a fire is certainly not advised. Three things really, the heat from the fire may have unknowingly damaged the electrics and mechanism of the lift, smoke can infiltrate the lift leaving you with limited space to operate or your day has just got unluckier because the lift decides to jam.
The only exception to using a lift in a fire evacuation is if a disabled person is present and they can’t use the stairs to evacuate; they may be left with no choice but to use the lift. It is always best to remain in control of your own destiny. Unless the stairwell poses greater risks to danger (fire and smoke) or someone is unable to travel down the stairs, using a lift to escape a burning building should never be entertained.
6* NOT TO DO DURING A FIRE – Trying to work out where the fire is and plotting an escape route from the building is undoubtedly a harrowing experience. If you’re situated inside a room that is yet to be infiltrated with flames you’ll be tempted to open the door and make a move for it. However, if you can see smoke rising from underneath the door or if the door itself feels hot you should never open it.
Opening a hot door has the potential to invite a growing blaze inside the room. Whether it’s stifling heat, plumes of smoke or rapidly spreading flames; you’ll be welcoming all of these deadly fire features into the safest room in the building.
7* NOT TO DO DURING A FIRE – As frightening as it seems hiding away in an event of a fire will not ensure your safety. Apart from it limiting your movement and ability to run if required, it also makes it difficult for the fire services to find you once they arrive. Hiding away in a wardrobe or underneath the bed will fail to properly protect you from the fire.
The harmful mix of heat, smoke and flames will proceed to damage any kind of enclosure, especially wooden structures. You may want to hide away in the face of a fire but in the long run it will do nothing to improve your situation.
8* NOT TO DO DURING A FIRE – You might think you’ve got it all in hand but sometimes you have to swallow your pride and call the professionals. Delaying your call to the fire service can eat up precious time because a fire wont stop and wait for you.
With every second that goes by without action your possessions, property and potentially life will become increasingly threatened from the fire. You need to quickly decide whether or not you can extinguish the fire on your own, if you can’t then there should be no delay in calling the fire brigade. You’re better safe than sorry.
As scary as they are, fires are relatively rare, so if you take the correct precautions to prevent a fire igniting you should be fine. But if you did encounter a fire we hope that these 8 things not to do in a fire can help you efficiently address the situation. Stay Safe!
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Read our interview with retired fire fighter turned fire safety consultant Bob Parkin @ Marsden Fire.