Did you know that if a fire starts in your home, you may have just two minutes to escape?
The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. 60 percent of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly save lives.
There is little time! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames. Most deadly fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to a fire, you won't have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is only time to escape.
Heat is more threatening than flames. A fire's heat alone can kill. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs. This heat can melt clothes to your skin. In five minutes, a room can get so hot that everything in it ignites at once: this is called flashover.
Fire isn't bright, it's pitch black. Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness. If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented and unable to find your way around the home you've lived in for years.
Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire uses up the oxygen you need and produces smoke and poisonous gases that kill. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door. You may not wake up in time to escape.
The presence of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors greatly increase the chance of survival during a fire or other hazardous event.
Smoke alarms should be present on each level of your home and in each bedroom, while carbon monoxide detectors are most efficient in common areas and near bedrooms.
Detectors should be tested and cleaned once a month and their batteries changed twice a year. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.
The Hagerstown Fire Department continues to offer it's citizens who live in homes of 3 units or less one free smoke detector per living level.