Home. It's the place where you expect to feel safe. But more fire deaths and injuries occur in the home than in any other place. Don't underestimate the danger of home fire. Follow home fire safety tips and make sure your family is in the know when it comes to house fire dangers.
House Fire Facts – How a House Fire Burns
The first step in family house fire safety is to understand how fire burns and the risks it poses. Only then can you properly protect yourself and your family against home fire.
A home fire – or any fire for that matter - requires three elements, both to ignite and to continue burning:
- Heat: Common heat sources include a hot stove burner, a spark from a worn electrical wire or a burning cigarette.
- Fuel: Just about everything in your home can fuel a fire – clothing, food, furniture, clutter, paper, plastics and more.
- Oxygen: The oxygen in the air around us also fuels a fire.
As a fire burns, the heat it creates warms nearby items, making it even easier for them to start burning too. The bigger the fire gets, the more quickly it spreads. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a major blaze.
Because most people don't realize how quickly a fire grows, they often overestimate their ability to extinguish it – and underestimate the amount of time they need to escape.
Remember, if a home fire starts, the smartest thing you can do for your own safety is to get out and stay out.
Fire creates poisonous smoke. Smoke's poisonous gases spread quickly from where the fire begins and can overwhelm you long before you see any flames. Inhaling these gases can disorient you and slow your reaction time, making escaping the fire more difficult.
Two common deadly gases in any home fire are carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide displaces oxygen from the blood and carbon dioxide causes people to breathe more quickly and inhale more poisonous gas. Understanding the dangers of smoke inhalation is critical to home fire safety.
Fire creates intense heat. In the first few minutes of a home fire, room temperature can reach 100ºF at floor level and 600ºF at eye level. This intense heat can cause serious injuries and death. The heat can melt clothing onto skin, causing severe burns. Moreover, breathing this superheated air causes rapid, severe lung damage, and unconsciousness follows in just minutes.
In just five minutes, the room temperature can reach 1100ºF – hot enough to ignite every combustible object in the room simultaneously. This event is called flashover. After flashover, conditions in a burning room deteriorate rapidly, making survival unlikely.
Remember, home fire safety is not something to be taken lightly. A home fire is a dangerous situation – and knowing the house fire facts is critical to your family's safety.
Fire creates emotional trauma. In addition to the physical dangers, fire takes a tremendous emotional toll on people and their families. Losing one's home, treasured possessions and photographs is traumatic. Belongings collected throughout your lifetime or handed down for generations are impossible to replace.
Rebuilding and recovery can be overwhelming. Think about cataloging every item in your home. Now consider doing it without being able to see any of the possessions. Fire victims must recall, record and replace everything they own while coming to terms with the tragedy. They must do this while rebuilding their homes and their lives.
Preparing a home inventory well in advance is a good idea – and may be easier than you think. Learn how to make a home inventory using the Know Your Stuff site from the Insurance Information Institute.
For more information download Fire Sense: A Smart Way to Prevent, Detect and Escape Home Fires. This guidebook can help you and your family, prevent, detect and escape home fires.