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How To Be Prepared For Life's Unexpected... Fire

14 July, 2017
The only thing I learned as a member of the Cub scouts. It was "To Be Prepared". Since then, no matter what I do, or where I'm preparing for the unexpected.   

From the age of dot, were taught not to speak to strangers, look left and right before crossing a road, always wear a seat belt. But as we get older, we become so busy living life, and not thinking, or preparing for life's unexpected events.

Preparing for a fire. There will always be fires, from chip pans fires, to toast left under the grill, to fires caused by magnifying glasses, shaving and vanity mirrors left in direct sunlight. Even arson. But no matter how careful we are, It's faulty fridges, washing machines and poor quality building materiel's which are the cause of many fires. The Fire departments said "one fire a day is caused by white goods".

Fires in high rise buildings resulting in multiple fatalities are a very rare occurrences. Either in the middle east, Asia or the United States. The reason why house fires are more prevalent than high rise building fires is because not all home owners take care of their smoke alarms or building regulations. High rise blocks have regular inspections and are regular maintained. High rise buildings are safer by design. They use advanced construction materiel's, steel and concrete. Advanced fire alarms. Automatic sprinklers and adequate facilities to leave the building. were no fatalities when a fire engulfed the luxury hotel in Dubai where people were enjoying a New Year’s Eve fireworks display, (although one did die from a heart attack) yet in England, the Grenfell tower block fire claimed at least 80 lives due to a faulty fridge which then ignited materiel's not conforming to fire safety standards. (image left - home insulation materiel's burning faster than the match) The advice the officials gave to the Grenfell residents was  "to stay in their homes". It proved to be a deadly mistake for those who headed that warning. Those who survived instinctively left.

According to the home office In 2015/16 there were around 529.000 incidents attended by the fire and rescue service in England. Smokers materiel's such as cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco were the source of ignition in 7% of accidental dwellings fires • Fires where a smoke alarm was not present accounted for 28% of all dwelling fires and 33% of dwelling fire fatalities. Fires where a smoke alarm was not present accounted for 28% of all dwelling fires.• Main powered smoke alarms have a lower failure rate than battery operated alarms. Home Office Fire Statistics. April 2015 - March 2016.

Prevention is better than cure. Be cautious to ensure everything you buy, or currently own conforms to fire safety standards such as furniture, beds and bedding, sheets, throws, curtains and clothing. Fire Safety of Furnishings in the Home.  Guide to the UK Regulations. Thoroughly inspect and even set fire to any new building materiel's such as insulation you buy for your home. Check the credentials of any contractors, and fire safety inspectors because anyone can take a 5 day course to become an approved fire risk assessor. you discussed with your family or household a plan what to do in case of fire?. First and foremost and before any potential fire, what's needed is a fire blanket for the kitchen. Fire extinguisher in the halls and bedroom. Smoke alarm in every room, and a carbon monoxide alarm. Working torches Specially designed 'fire escape ladders' (if they suit your property). Always worth the investment. Hosepipes kept under the sink and/or bath.To protect against any smoke if trapped, goggles and a face mask could make all the difference until help arrives. A fireproof outfit would be ideal. In the event of any fire, the fire department recommends you "leave the building as quickly and calmly as possible raising the alarm for other residents along the way". 
Quick thinking and ingenuity could make all the difference.  Example- With a 25ft rope, I could scale down the tallest building in the World - with ingenuity.

In the event of a fire, keeping calm is a must, and time. Is there time to turn off the electrics before trying to extinguish a fire before help arrives? Is there time to run the bath and sink taps. Is there time to attach a hose-pipe 'securely' to extinguish the fire? Smoke kills more people than the fire it's self so large sticky tapes in every room to tape around the door frame gaps if ever needed until help arrives. Wet towels to place under the gaps of doors. Is there a long and strong enough drain pipe outside the window, or any other ledges, nooks or cranny to use to escape by climbing down or up? What's safest and quickest form of escape, the lift, stairs or window.? Is there time to save others including any pets and how?, belongings that are irreplaceable and sentimental? All these scenarios have to be mentally and physically played out in advance, bearing in mind, fires can be ferocious and deadly unpredictable, which can escalate as seen in this video of a firemen narrowly escaping death.

Security locks on windows to keep the burglars out may unwittingly keep you in. What would be quicker, braking the glass and/or frame, or 'finding' and removing window locks to escape.

Everybody needs good neighbours. Get to know your neighbours and discuss with them your fire escape procedures. Find out if they own hosepipes, their location, length, condition, and pressure capabilities. Ladders. Are they easily accessible when needed, and how high? If you saw someone trapped in a fire or about to jump, how could you help?.

These neighbours acted perfectly to save a Father who threw himself and his two kids, and then himself from the 5th floor. Does anyone owns a large van?. If so, park it below because landing on a the roof of a van or lorry is better than a concrete ground. Does anyone own bouncy castle-type-structures, and how long would they take to be deployed? Mattresses could be used to help anyone who has to jump out from tall buildings. Using your imagination and quick thinking, anything and everything is possible to help save lives.

No-one could have imagined, 'or' be prepared for two commercial airplanes to deliberately fly into the Twin Towers, 'and' that both towers would collapse. Now we have to be more imaginable for life's unexpected events. rise towers / buildings are safer than regular homes by design. If I lived, or even worked in a high rise building, a long enough rope that rock climbers use, and gloves to stop any friction burns would be a must. Or a base jump style parachute and learn how to use it before jumping from a tower block like this guy did, bearing in mind this could be fatal if you jump out onto power lines, or in the middle of a motorway. That's why planning and preparing for all scenarios is a must.

Before evacuating from a building, The lower stairs or hallways which are out of sight could be on fire and full of smoke, if there's time, soak the body with water and cover the head with soaked clothing or towels and wear appropriate goggles and smoke mask before you leave. If you don't have, use a bandana type materiel to wrap around the face to protect against smoke, and swimming goggles. Make sure the communal hallways clear from shelving, plant pots, bikes and prams. These could cause havoc by people tripping over them on there way down, as well as firemen on there way up.

An analogy. If my home started to 'flood' for whatever reasons, I'd  desperately try to halt the flow. Like with a fire, I'll soon know when to leave.

Assigning roles. Knowing what to do if a fire, or fire alarm rings out. Find out immediately where it's coming from. If it's obvious, take action. Call the emergency services immediately. If you have to vacate, do you know what clothing to wear?. Consider the flammability of certain fabrics. Which household member will take charge of either the fire extinguisher, fire blanket, attaching hose equipment - grabbing small children and/or helping the elderly or sick neighbours to evacuate ought to be planned well in advance.

My previous property was a top floor flat of a house conversion. It had a loft, and access to it, but no window to escape from. I was prepared. If trapped by a fire and with no chance to escape from any windows and forced upwards to the loft (attic), I'd climb into the loft, and using a hammer and sharp knife to smash and cut through the roofing materiel's. Taking into consideration the slope of roof, it's strength, potential weather conditions such as snow and ice, and if it's dark was all prepared and planned within days of moving in.

Thinking outside the box, may help keep you out of one

I live on the 3rd floor of a 5 story building. My emergency escape plan. If there's time and with a long enough rope, a suitable holdall to put my pet in. I know where to tie the end of the rope to lower him out the window, either the front or back of building and then slide down. When younger, I lived on the 23rd (top floor). A potential fire never even crossed my mind.

If You Fail To Plan, You Plan To Fail
  • The elderly, young and disabled, and people (hoarders) who keep homes packed with stuff should be extra cautious around the home, especially when cooking - keeping fit and agile could make all the difference. 
  • Un-plug  any unused electrical appliances, and don't use them unattended while you're out. It's safer and more economic to leave them off. 
  • Instead of real candles, try LED flame-less tea lights that dims.
  • Regularly checking smoke alarms, fire exits and other fire safety equipment you own, and study the how-to-use instruction labels.
  • The government have a duty to make all public buildings, offices, Schools and hotels to conform to fire safety precautions and procedures. It's up to us to keep our homes safe.
  • Buildings, tower blocks, flats, cottages, caravan and boats are all different, so each property you either move into, stay the night, or when traveling abroad should have it's own 'bespoke' safety procedure thought out immediately. Observe and check all exit routes are accessible when needed and the location of any fire safety facilities.
  • in the event of a fire coming from any direction should be planning physically and mentally well in advance with all the family / household. From extinguishing the fire to escaping.It's the only way to keep safe and have peace of mind

Disclaimer.  The information and advice expressed on this page are my own.  I don't have any official training in fire safety.  Official Information concerning any fire related information regarding.  Barbecues. Bonfires. Candle. Carbon Monoxide. Chip Pan. Christmas. Electric Blankets. Escape Plans. Fire Extinguishers. Fire Safety in Rented Accommodation. Fire Safety on Boats. Fire Safety Outdoors. Fire Safety for Parents and Carers. Fire Safety for Gypsies and Travelers. Fire Safety for Students. Fireworks. Flood Advice. Landlord Advice. Mains Smoke Alarms. Smoke Alarms. Vehicle Fires. Water Mist Extinguishers and Water Safety can be obtained from the GOV.UK.

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