In the event of a building fire, time is of the essence. Your first priority should be to get out of the burning building as quickly and safely as possible.
Every second counts when it comes to getting out alive. However, panicking can lead to poor decision-making and impede your ability to escape.
Exposure to extreme heat can cause third-degree burns over large areas of the body, resulting in shock and organ failure. Finally, asphyxiation is a risk in any fire, as oxygen is consumed by the flames.
Speed is critical to escape a burning building because it must be assumed that the fire will only grow and spread progressively, consuming the limited physical space of the structure as well as breathable air.
To maximize your chances of survival, it is important to remain calm and follow a few simple steps on how to escape a burning building.
Do not waste time gathering belongings, the moments merely deciding what to take is precious seconds lost. At the most, take your go-bag if within reach.
A towel (or article of clothing) soaked in water may be the most valuable thing in this scenario, so prepare this before making your escape if possible.
First, locate the closest exit and head towards it proceeding quickly but carefully. If the exit is blocked by flames or smoke, look for an alternate route. If you are trapped, do not try to escape through the flames – this will only increase your risk of injury.
Check each door you come across to see if it’s too hot, don’t just open them on a whim. Spit on the doorknob or hover your palm near the door to detect heat, as well as see if there’s smoke come from below. Look for windows that can be opened or broken.
Once you have found an exit or a way forward, use a wet towel or piece of clothing to protect your face from the smoke and heat to filter and cool the air to make it safer and more comfortable to breath.
Move quickly but methodically, as fallen debris can create obstacles. Close doors whenever possible behind you to slow the spread of fire and smoke.
Always try to stay low to the ground, where the air will be cooler and easier to breathe, even if you can’t see smoke – toxic gases and chemicals will be invisible.
If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop, and roll until the flames are extinguished. Use the wet towel as well.
Only take elevators if you can’t reach the stairs or there’s too much smoke or fire in the staircase.
Smoke inhalation is the most common cause of death in fires, and it can happen very quickly. If you’re trapped in a room that’s filling up with smoke, you may start to feel dizzy and disoriented. You may become unconscious and suffocate before the flames even reach you.
Finally, if you can’t find a way out, seal yourself in a room (preferably with an exterior wall) with wet towels under the door, and wait for help to arrive – again, keeping your head as low to the ground as possible for breathable air. Periodically yell for help and create loud (banging) noises to attract first responders.
By following these basic steps and tips, you can improve your odds of escaping a burning building alive.
[OPTICS : Westhampton, New York]