LAFD: The Simple Facts About Fire

Monday, October 15, 2012 |

Every day, people in Los Angeles experience the horror of fire. But most people don't understand fire. Only when we know the true nature of fire can we prepare ourselves and our families.

Each year there are an estimated 2,560 U.S. fire deaths in residential buildings.

The Los Angeles Fire Department and the United States Fire Administration believe that fire deaths can be reduced by teaching people the simple facts about fire...


Fire is FAST!
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 an entire house. In minutes, a house can be engulfed in flames. Most 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.

Fire is HOT!
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 is DARK!
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.

Fire is DEADLY!
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.


Fire Safety Tips:

In the event of a fire, remember time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Escape first, then call for help. Develop a home fire escape plan and designate a meeting place outside. Make sure everyone in the family knows two ways to escape from every room. Practice feeling your way out with your eyes closed. Never stand up in a fire, always crawl low under the smoke and try to keep your mouth covered. Never return to a burning building for any reason; it may cost you your life.

Finally, be sure to install and properly maintain smoke alarms to dramatically increase your chance of surviving a fire. Talking about fire prevention and survival with your family, and practicing your home escape plan is something that may not be able to wait for tomorrow.


Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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