What Is Fire?

Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die and more than 25,000 are injured in fires* . . . many of these tragedies could have been prevented by understanding the dangers of fire and how to prevent fires even before they occur. Here are some facts about fire:


Fire Is Fast

You have very little time to escape. A small flame can get completely out of control in less than 30 seconds. In a few minutes, black smoke will fill the building, and in a few more minutes the house can be completely engulfed by flames. Most home fires occur while people are sleeping. If you wake to a fire, you won’t have time to collect your valuables because the fire spreads too quickly and the smoke will kill you. You have time only to escape, if even that. And because even a small fire in another part of the house may produce enough toxic gas to reach your sleeping quarters before the smoke itself does, you may not wake at all.


Fire Is Hot

The temperature in a room on fire is much hotter than the oven in your kitchen can ever reach. It can be 100°F at floor level, but over 600°F at eye level. If you inhale this super-heated air, you will scorch your lungs and die. The heat can melt your clothing to your skin. Within a few minutes, everything in the room can get so hot that it ignites suddenly and at once; this is called a flashover, and few who have seen it have survived.


Fire Is Dark

Fire starts bright, but quickly produces thick black smoke that will plunge you into complete darkness. If you awaken to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented, and unable to find your way around the home you’ve lived in for years.


Fire Is Deadly

Fire consumes the oxygen you need to breathe and produces deadly smoke and poisonous gases. Even small amounts of these gases can make you drowsy, disoriented, or short of breath. Odorless, colorless byproducts of fire can make you sleep before the flames or smoke reach your door. You may not wake up in time to escape. You MUST install smoke detectors on every floor of your home and in every sleeping area, and ensure they are always in working order with fresh batteries so you are awakened in time to escape. Working smoke detectors save lives!


Fire Is Preventable

The best way to deal with house fires is to prevent them. And you’ll find in these pages some tips for doing just that. Of course, you can never completely eliminate the risk of fire in your home, but we’ll show you what to do when the unthinkable happens . . . because thinking about fire before it happens is your best defense!


*Source: NFPA.