Of fire and smoke


When we discuss fire safety, egress discipline from pitch dark enclosures caused by fire or electricity failures or mishaps caused deliberately by criminals, terrorists etc., it would be wise to distinguish popular perception from actual reality. How many of us know that smoke is a bigger killer than fire? A fire is visible from a distance and the instinct to get away from it is extremely high but smoke is invisible and often doesn’t inspire as strong an instinct to get away.  Statistics therefore bear out this fact.
Smoke reduces visibility, affects the nervous system, makes breathing difficult and induces panic and leads people to actually rush into danger areas rather than away from them.
These pointers may help us to be mentally prepared in case of fire hazards.
  • If you smell smoke or gas immediately get alert and find the source, it could be the kitchen burner left burning or leaking gas. Open windows and make place for the gas to disseminate immediately after you plug the leak. DON’T LIGHT A MATCH.
  • Never use/leave your cellphone anywhere close to the microwave or the gas burner.
  • If your fire extinguisher is old, it’s a good idea to check it out once in a while from time to time, to make sure it does not jam up when you need it.
  • The tendency to run for the lift when the flames fan out is the wrong thing to do. Lifts are death traps in case of fire and one must only use the stairs.
  • If the fire is outside a closed enclosure which you are in, it is best to seal the crevices around the door with wet cloth. Keep pouring water on the cloth to keep it wet.
  • Assemble at a pre determined spot. Count the number of people and see if anyone is missing.
  • Flammable material at hand must be taken out in the open out of the range of a raging fire. Oily rags, paper, clothes etc. could catch fire fast.
  • In smoke conditions, you may find layers of fresh air on the floor. The thing to do is to drop to the floor and crawl towards the exit.

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