Escape from Fire

Once you have made your way out of a burning building you may already be suffering the effects from lack of oxygen.  One of the major effects of lack of oxygen is the impairment of judgment.  You may not realize it, but the possible lack of oxygen on the way out may impair your ability to think clearly and rationally.  Even if you are not affected, others who escaped with you may display this impairment of judgment.  IT IS IMPORTANT TO PREVENT OTHERS FROM RE-ENTERING!


Another hazard that exists in a burning building is the presence of toxic gases.  Carbon monoxide is a main byproduct of fire.  It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.  In high concentration it can cause immediate unconsciousness and subsequent death.  Even in moderate amounts, carbon monoxide can cause impairment of mental functions similar to lack of oxygen.

Fire itself is a serious hazard in that it can cause fatal or debilitating burn injuries.  A building fire can generate heat upwards of 1,500 degrees F.  Keep in mind that water boils at 212 degrees F, and that most foods are cooked at temperatures of less than 500 degrees F.  There is the possible danger of flashover where a room is immediately engulfed in flames in an explosion-like reaction.

Gas mains, propane tanks, and even small arms ammunition can explode causing serious injury.

The structural integrity of the building can be affected during fire.  Ceilings and walls can collapse on top of you, the floors can fall from underneath your feet, and other structures such as stairways and porches can collapse.

Often electrical lines can become exposed inside the building and fall from outside connections to the ground on the exterior of the building.  This can result in electrocution.

Go to a safe place far enough away from the building in case of collapse or explosion and perform a head count of those who were in the building with you.  If someone is missing it is critically important that this be conveyed to arriving firefighting personnel.  Tell them who and how many people are missing and where they were last seen.

DO NOT GO BACK IN AND TRY TO FIND THOSE MISSING!  Seek medical care if you or any others who escaped from the burning building are injured.  Keep in mind that the symptoms of lack of oxygen and/or exposure to toxic gases can closely resemble those of alcohol intoxication.  Get these people immediate medical attention.