You have read, many times over the need for adequate numbers of properly operating smoke alarms in your home. You have also read about the need to perform exit drills in your home to ensure that everyone wakes up when the smoke alarms are activating. The third thing that I know you have read in my articles is to stay low and go until you get outside to your designated, safe meeting place. These three items should be givens in your family’s home escape plan in the event of a fire.
Since some of you think that this will never happen to you or your family, let me approach this from a different direction. Say that you choose not to take the necessary steps outlined in my first paragraph to ensure your family’s safety. I will tell you some of the places that people are found when fire strikes their homes.
For fires started by people smoking in bed or on couches, many of them are found in the bed or on the couch. The closer a fire is to people when it starts, the greater the chance of people being unable to self-rescue. If a person stands up into the heat and smoke of a fire, they will not go far before they are overcome. This person may collapse immediately, or they may make it a short distance down a normal pathway in their home. One thing to realize is that your home becomes unfamiliar when you fill it with smoke and fire. Hallways may be blocked, and stairwells become chimneys. Furniture becomes obstacles that prevent egress.
So where are people found? Many victims are found at front and back doors. That is right: people make it to the exit door, only to be overcome before they can exit. Another place that people are found is below a window. Firefighters are taught to sound a floor before exiting a ladder into an upper floor window. They are not only checking to see if the floor is strong enough to hold them, but they are also checking for victims who were overcome before they could open a window. In both of these fire situations, so close but so far.
Sadly enough, when children set fires in their homes, some children die in these fires and not necessarily the child who sets the fire. As stated earlier, people in the vicinity of the area of origin usually become victims in these fires. Children also believe that they can hide from the fire and be safe from it. They may hide under beds or in closets. Children play with fire because of access to lighters and matches, as well as a lack of parental supervision.
It is not my desire that any person will have to be rescued by firefighters, and, by the way, most people pulled out of fires by firefighters do not fare very well. This is not always the case. Some have been rescued and fully recovered, but many die as a result of smoke inhalation or burn injuries. The best chance that you and your family have to survive a fire in your home is if you are able to get yourself out when smoke alarms begin to sound. Do not chance your life or the life of one of your family members on the fact that you will wake up without smoke alarms. You may not know when a fire will occur, but you can ensure that your family is prepared when a fire strikes. Where will you be found?