The Power Of Fire
Fire can start in an instant. It takes lives, injures victims, destroys homes and steals precious possessions.
Consider these startling statistics:
- Nationwide, there is a home-fire injury every 37 minutes.
- A home-fire death happens every 164 minutes.
- In 2004 alone, 3,190 people died in home fires in the U.S., one of the highest fire death rates among industrialized nations.
Fire can harm all of us; however, adults 65 years and older are affected most by the power of fire. They represent just 12% of the population, but they comprise 27% of the home fire fatalities.
To keep your family safe, you need to understand how fire burns and how it can harm you. Only then can you properly protect yourself, your family and your home.
How Fire Burns
Fire requires three elements, both to ignite and to continue burning:
Heat: Common heat sources include a hot stove burner, a spark from a worn electrical wire or a burning cigarette.
Fuel: Just about everything in your home can fuel a fire.
Oxygen: The oxygen in the air around us also fuels a fire. As a fire burns, the heat it creates warms nearby items, making it even easier for them to start burning, too.
The bigger the fire gets, the more quickly it spreads. Because most people don't realize how quickly a fire grows, they often:
- Overestimate their ability to extinguish it.
- Underestimate the amount of time they need to escape.
If a fire starts in your home, the best action to take is to get out and stay out.
Fire Creates Poisonous Smoke
Smoke's gases spread quickly from where the fire begins and can overwhelm you long before you see any flames. Escape from the fire becomes more difficult.
Two common deadly gases in home fires are:
- Carbon monoxide - displaces oxygen from the blood.
- Carbon dioxide - causes people to breathe more quickly and inhale more poisonous gas.
- Nearly 79 percent of home fire victims die primarily from the effects of smoke.
Fire Creates Emotional Trauma
In addition to the physical dangers, fire takes a tremendous emotional toll on people and their families. Losing one's home, treasured possessions and photographs is traumatic. Belongings collected throughout your lifetime or handed down for generations are impossible to replace.
Rebuilding and recovery can be overwhelming. Think about cataloging every item in your home. Now consider doing it without being able to see any of the possessions. Fire victims must recall, record and replace everything they own while coming to terms with the tragedy. They must do this while rebuilding their homes and their lives.