We are plagued by fire safety misconceptions that have been ground into our heads since preschool! Unfortunately, some of the misconceptions regarding house fires and fire safety could actually kill us! That’s right–misguided information that we have all learned in school, from the fire department and throughout our entire lives could ultimately result in our untimely deaths in the even of a house fire!
Fire Safety Misconception #1: If I stop Drop and Roll I will be fine!
Stop drop and roll will work fine once you are outside of the fire and at least 300 feet from the burning building! Unfortunately, the majority of people who encounter a home fire that is severe enough to warrant a stop, drop and roll never make it out of the house! While we have all been taught to stop, drop and roll since we entered kindergarten, this is not an effect means of getting out of a fire. You must first get out and get far away before trying any stop, drop and roll tactics to put out additional flames!
Fire Safety Misconception #2: When the Smoke Alarm Goes Off I should Get my kids and get out!
This sounds great right? Smoke alarm goes off in the middle of the night, we (as parents) jump up out of bed and run to the kids’ rooms to get them and we all make it out alive–WRONG! As many as 90% of parents are found dead at their master bedroom doorways because they heard the smoke alarm, jumped right up and headed toward the hall to save their children. The only problem with this fire safety misconception is the fact that walking at a normal height toward the children puts parents in grave danger of smoke inhalation which will quickly kill a person.
Fire Safety Misconception #3: Crawl Along the Baseboards Until you Reach Your Exit!
Another fire safety hazard that we were taught in school. The misconception is that if we crawl on our hands and knees and feel our way along the baseboards until we reach the exit we will be ok–the problem with this plan is that toxic gasses build up and until the fire reaches flashover intensity these toxic gasses stay right around knee level or below. This is the level that we are all taught to crawl along and breath in because there is no smoke at this level yet–too bad the toxic gas will kill you by asphyxiation with just one breath!
Fire Safety Misconception #4: When My Smoke Alarms go Off I will Have Plenty of time to get out!
Another misconception that kills is that when smoke alarms alert us that there is a fire in the home we will have adequate time to get out. This common fire safety misconception is wrong because for one, many smoke alarms will not even go off until the fire is so far out of control that we are essentially dead anyway from smoke inhalation or asphyxiation and for two, you only have at most 2 minutes from the time a fire starts to get out of the house! See how long it takes you in broad daylight, without obstacles to get out of the house–a minute? 45 seconds? Now throw in a few obstacles, try to get your kids too, and take off 5 minutes for the amount of time it takes for your smoke detector to actually warn you of the fire–you’re dead!
Fire Safety Misconception #5: I have Smoke Alarms so I am fire safe!
Many people have a false hope simply because they have smoke alarms throughout the home. Unfortunately, this fire safety misconception is one of the most deadly! This is because smoke alarms fail for a variety of reasons. They often will not go off until the fire danger is too late. Another reason that smoke alarms fail is because they often melt before they actually begin to alert a danger sign. Finally, smoke alarms also fail because they do not detect the most deadly type of smoke in the home! Ionic smoke detectors detect small particles such as the smoke that comes off of burnt toast but they tend to fail when it comes to harsh chemical based smoke such as a home on fire.
Any of these common misconceptions can prove to be deadly in the event of a home fire. In addition to making sure that you do not fall victim to any of these fire safety misconceptions, you should also make sure that your children are aware of fire safety, fire danger, and the importance of knowing how to escape the home the night of a deadly fire!