Getting Out Alive: How to Survive a House Fire

They happen every day. In fact, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,240,000 fires in 2013 alone! These fires resulted in more than 3,000 civilian fire fatalities and nearly 16,000 additional fire injuries. Furthermore, the cost of direct property loss totaled more than $11.5 billion. With someone dying from a fire every 2 hours and 42 minutes, would you be ready in case of a fire?

Many people don’t think a fire would ever happen to them—until it does. Fires spread exponentially and temperatures can get up to 600 degrees in just a matter of minutes. The thick black smoke and toxic gases give you a very short time to escape alive. As further illustrated in this graphic, there is barely any time to escape a modern home before it is completely engulfed by flames. Therefore it is crucial to be prepared and know how to safely evacuate in the case of a fire.

1. Always be aware of signs of a fire and react immediately.

As soon as you hear your smoke alarm or see/smell smoke, get out! The NFPA recommends each home has smoke alarms installed inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home. Make sure your smoke alarms are installed and working properly.

2. Know your way out!

If there’s a fire, it is important to get out of the house immediately. Especially if there are children or elderly people in your home, you should create an escape plan and practice it at least twice a year. Make sure you have discussed two ways out of every room and designate a meeting place in front of your home for everyone to meet once they’ve escaped.

3. Stay low!

If you see smoke while you are evacuating a building, drop to your hands and knees and try to crawl below the smoke. If you are physically unable to do this, try to cover your mouth and nose in order to avoid breathing the toxic fumes.

4. Test doors before opening!

Before opening any closed door, check the door for heat with the back of your hand and look for smoke coming under the door. If it is hot or if you see smoke, do not open it. If possible, find another way out of the room. If it seems safe to do so, carefully evacuate– closing all doors behind you to slow down the fire.

5. If your clothes catch fire, Stop, Drop, and Roll!

Remember learning this in elementary school? Well, the rule still applies! If your clothes are on fire, don’t run or panic. Stop immediately, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands, and roll. This cuts off air and puts out the flames.

6. If you’re trapped…

Close all the doors between your and the fire. If possible, fill cracks in doors and cover all vents to keep the smoke out of the room you are in. If you have access to a phone, call 911 immediately and tell them where you are located.

7. Once you’re out, stay out!

Go to your designated meeting place and make sure everyone is accounted for and unharmed. If you haven’t called for help already, do so immediately. Keep a safe distance from the structure. Don’t go back in for anything, including pets. If any people or pets are left in the building, let the firefighters know once they arrive and they may be able to help.

Follow these safety tips and be sure all members of your family are aware of what to do in case of a house fire. Remember, if you’re home has both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers present, the risk of dying in a fire is reduced by 82%. Having a working fire sprinkler system in your home is almost like having a firefighter there to protect your home 24/7!

Do you have more fire safety tips? Tweet us @USAFP!

Want additional information on how fire sprinklers can save your home and your family? Visit our website or call us today (847) 816-0050.