Wednesday, December 31, 2008

three minutes...

In the mid 1970s, it was found that, because of synthetic materials and other combustibles in homes, it took just over 4 minutes for life to be insupportable in the average house fire...

That was 4 minutes from the time the fire was detected until you had not chance of surviving.

How many of us assume that working smoke detectors give us "more time" and that our houses are "safer" than they were in the 1970s?

In fact, our houses are less safe when it comes to fire. Our homes are filled with plastic children's toys, fabrics, cushion stuffing, clothing, upholstery, carpeting, electronics and a myriad of other materials and products which, in a fire, increase combustibility and release of toxic smoke and gases during a fire.

Experts now have determined that, in the average house fire, from the moment that a fire is detected until life becomes unsupportable, you have 3 minutes to get out of your house.

3 minutes before you die.

This means that, rather than trying to locate valuables... rather than trying to put out the fire yourself... you should be getting yourself and your loved ones out of the house.

Some facts:
  • In only 3 1/2 minutes, the heat from a house fire can reach over 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In rooms that are not even on fire the temperature can reach over 300 degrees; this is hot enough to melt plastic and kill the people in those rooms.
An excellent PDF on fire escape planning

While this video involves a Christmas tree, I think it amply proves how quickly a fire can become fully involved.

Take a note of the time from the start of the video and the time at the end of the film...

If you think this is unusual behaviour for people knowing that there is a fire, I can tell you it is not.

When I worked in the book store, we had two occasions when we had small fires in the ceiling lights and tried to evacuate the store while the fire department arrived. On both occasions, the customers insisted on being allowed to shop until the firemen arrived, even congregating directly under the lights which were dropping molten metal and sparks below.... in a book store crammed to the rafters with paper.

We quite literally had to threaten them with police charges is they did not leave the store.

What to do when a pan of grease catches fire

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