Should a fire break out in your home and you are unprepared, you may face dire consequences. Not knowing what to do in advance is an easy way to cause yourself some panic when you actually need to get out. Your escape route is something you should be well aware of before anything happens that would require you to use said escape route. Whether you escape via the stairs, fire escape, fire stairs, or use a SkySaver, every person should be prepared for the worst. The last thing you want is to notice a fire breaking out and have absolutely no idea how to act. See “How to Create an Action Emergency Plan” and “How to Maintain Your Composure During an Emergency Situation” for more information on this subject.
Obviously, before any of this, make sure you have all fire safety measures installed within your home or office. These include smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, SkySavers, and maybe even fire sprinklers (see 4 Fire Safety Items Ranked). The smoke detector should give you enough of a warning to escape via normal means, while fire extinguishers and fire sprinklers give you a means to combat the fire. If it is too overpowering, don’t try to do the impossible and escape. The SkySaver is there when there is no other way out. Hiding in a closet or under a bed might give you some extra time, however it increases the likelihood of becoming trapped or succumbing to the smoke before the fire even gets to you.
As stated in a previous blog post (How to Create an Action Emergency Plan), knowing everything you must do before encountering such a situation is paramount in remaining calm and getting what needs to be done, done. Should you have no real action emergency plan in place, the least you could know is where all of the escape routes are in your domicile. Knowing every way out of your home during an emergency situation gives you the best odds of getting out, should one arise.
Once you hear that alarm, be sure to guarantee that the room you are going into is not filled with flames. Opening a door to a room of fire could be a sure fire way to cause a flashover. See our blog post on rollovers, flashovers, and backdrafts here. The way to be sure that you are not opening a door to your doom is to place the back of your palm on the door itself. If it’s cool, open it slowly. If it’s hot, do not open it and find another way. If it’s warm, open it slowly as well, because there is still a chance you can get out that way.
Once you find a clear pathway to escape, be sure to crawl on the floor. Fire causes smoke, and as you may have seen in a previous posts (5 Common Myths About Fire Safety) the thing most likely to kill you in a fire IS the smoke. The cleanest air you will find during a fire is nearest to the ground. Stay low until you make it out.
All of this needs to be done quickly. The interior temperature can raise to over 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit within 3 and a half minutes during a fire. That gives you very little leeway. Of course, make sure to contact the fire department first thing (especially if there is no clear path to leave). Even if you have called the fire department and they are on their way, that doesn’t mean you should just wait around and sit there. You never know what can happen while you wait. If you own a SkySaver and can access your anchor point, now is the time to use it. Strap it on, hook the carabiner onto the anchor, and lower yourself to safety. That is all it takes; 3 easy steps. If you do not own a SkySaver, stay low, and cover your mouth, so as not to inhale the fumes of the fire. Once the fire department arrives, adhere to their instructions and do everything they say. They are professionals and it is their duty to save your life.
Some final tips:
Do everything as quickly as possible and DO NOT PANIC.
If you catch on fire, you should, you guessed it; stop, drop, and roll.
DO NOT use the elevators.
Have a set meeting place for you and your family.
Do not go back inside.