Survive fire

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Solution

Increasing the odds to survive Fire

 The description of Fire can be found under “Why be prepared”

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Prelude

Surviving fire is a broad subject to address due to the complexity and diverse nature associated with the possible scenario's. Each fire is different from the next because of intricacies involving fuel consumption rates,  materials involved,  weather and wind conditions as well as its location such as a forest or structure. Other variables associated with the existence of fire are associated with external influences such as wind and weather which may inhibit or encourage the growth of a fire. Though there may not be a "one plan fits all" for surviving the array of circumstances related to fire there are a number of measures that can be considered for reducing the chances of perishing in such a calamity. Surviving fire requires a desire to live coupled with attentive awareness and preparation.

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The following information has been provided to assist those searching for solutions to surviving fire. Following links provided in this portal will further aid in acquiring a better understanding and knowledge base for surviving fire.

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Reporting a fire

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How to report a fire

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The value of human intuition and awareness

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Humans have a unique array of senses that can trigger internal alarms corresponding to various responses. These responses are set in our minds as we gain experience and wisdom throughout life. Those senses tell us what we can expect as being normal. Humans typically become acclimated to our surroundings with the passing of time and are instinctively aware when something seems wrong with our environment. Fire has a variation of characteristics that can be detected by smell, sight and touch unless we are deficient with those senses for any reason.

The effects of fire can produce a variety smells which can be associated with particular materials. Plastics smell different than wood etc. Electrical equipment also has a distinctive smell that may indicate a serious problem to be sought out and found quickly. We can also detect the slightest variation in vision when fire is nearby from the distortion of clarity due to particulates and ash in the air. Some indications of fire can be felt from our extremities of the body such as the hands or feet provoking curiosity due abnormal heat emanating from the floor or walls of a structure. It is important while investigating such an issue to be cautious before opening doors to areas that feel hotter than the occupied room. This can inadvertently fuel a fire with the potential to cause sudden injury or death.

Keeping our senses sharp and in tune with surroundings is a vital step to avoiding the effects of fire. Senses can be dampened and inhibited from indulging in excessive levels of intoxication resulting from alcohol or medications. Those who are dependent upon medications known to cause disorientation or poor judgement would benefit from having clear minded neighbors nearby in case of such an event. There are vulnerable moments for humans when our senses are less effective in detecting fire and smoke and that is during a deep sleep. It is for those moments when the use of technical devices are an advantage. It is certainly beneficial in keeping a clear sense of awareness to what is going on around us. Practicing the purposeful intent to identify various attributes of fire is a tactic used to sharpen awareness. Sharpening our senses can result in a heightened level of intuition encouraging a quicker response time when action is required. Time is one of the most important aspects of surviving. Having enough of it during a fire is an important key to extinguishing or escaping such an event.  Rely on your senses to trigger immediate action.  [The human nose] , [Scents of smell dampened during sleep]

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Technical assistance

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Usage of devices to aid in surviving fire and smoke

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Detection

In addition to senses and intuition are technical devices and systems which can aid in the early warnings of fire and smoke. Devices as such are commonly used in structures and dwellings where people spend longer amounts of time in one location. These devices monitor internal conditions within a structure when humans are not on guard or paying attention.  They are advantageous in giving occupants of additional time to react accordingly. Many such devices and systems announce when abnormal conditions exists with both audio and visual indicators. Some higher end technology such as thermal cameras can detect characteristics of fire for great distances offering extended opportunities to respond. Many such detection systems are linked to local fire departments and emergency services for added response.  [Fire detection / Thermal cameras] , [Smoke alarm central] , [Very early warning systems]

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Monitoring emergency services

Many survival minded people utilize scanners and radios to aid in the purpose of gaining an early warning to such events. This is yet another tool used to gain additional time in responding. See a list of radio frequencies here. [Scanners] , [Emergency radio frequencies] , [More frequencies] 

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Filtering the effects

There are a few devices known to be conducive for avoiding the effects of fire and smoke. Respirators and N95 masks are useful items to keep at home and in our emergency bug out pack. These devices can save lives. Normal masks are not efficient in filtering smaller smoke related particulates in the air. Goggles are another item that has been proven useful during a fire and smoke event. The ability to see will become very important when surviving is the intent. Filtering the effects of fire becomes crucial when we are close enough to feel the heat.  This is a situation that requires immediate evacuation so as to avoid being caught in the path of flames. It is known to be an advantage to cover ones body and clothing with cold water when forced to traverse through fire stricken areas or structures. [N95 masks], [Respirators]

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Relevant conditions to consider

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Environmental

Having a good understanding of our specific environment is advantageous when formulating a preparedness plan for fire. If for instance we live in a densely populated area within a dwelling or structure shared by many people it becomes important to understand our vulnerabilities. Under such circumstances we are not in control of what our neighbors do in the privacy of their own homes. We are subject to their habits and rituals in a subtle and secondary way. An individual who passes out after consuming too much alcohol with a cigarette in their hand posses a threat to neighbors with the potential of starting a fire. Compounding these rituals and behaviors by adding in the habits for the rest of the occupants in the building is a frightening thought.  What our neighbors are doing has an impact on our security. Avoiding the risk of such an environment may require relocating to an area that puts space between you and others.

Working and living in regions associated with industry can also present conditions and concerns to be aware of. Many industry and manufacturing processes involve chemicals, materials and equipment known to have incurred accidents causing explosions and fire often prompting evacuation of an entire area. Other areas or environments prompting higher levels of concern and awareness are those associated with heavy foliage and trees such as a forest. These areas are susceptible to fires. For those living in such vulnerable areas it becomes important to keep a barrier of clear space between the dwelling and the foliage. Apply fire barrier treatment or replace wooden roof shingles with materials less likely to ignite during a nearby fire.

Knowing the flammable materials within our environment will offer a better chance of dealing with the consequences of fire. Homes have a large array of materials known to be conducive for fueling fires. Keep flammable household products in a safe place away from catalytic reactions such as heat or reactive chemicals.

Having a better familiarity with our surrounding is advantageous when developing a plan for preparedness.  Escaping from a burning building depends upon a few factors associated with the environment. Knowing the layout of a structure is key. Staying low to the ground has been known to increase visibility as well as the ability to breath cleaner air. [Flammable materials used in homes]  ,  [More flammable stuff in the home]  ,  [Video / Flammable household products]  ,  [Protecting the home from fire]

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Wind and weather

Simply stated, .... it is a valuable practice to instinctively filter in elements associated with wind and weather during a fire. Fire can take a path which is often subject to wind direction. As mentioned earlier having the appropriate time to escape a fire may be easier to accomplish if we stay out of the path. Extremely dry conditions such as what follows a long summer season can cause a fire to take a path much quicker than expected. Evacuate in a direction that provides a larger window of opportunity. [What influences fire behavior]  ,  [Weather effects wildfires]

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While in the wilderness

The problem with forest fires is that the forests are usually remote, abandoned/non managed areas filled with trees, dry and parching wood, leaves, and so forth that act as a fuel source. These elements form a highly combustible material and represent the perfect context for initial-fire ignition and act as fuel for later stages of the fire. The ignition may be caused through human actions like smoking, smoldering barbecues or by natural reasons such as high temperature in a hot summer day.  Be aware that reflective materials such as broken glass and discarded soda cans are known to cause fires by focusing the sun light onto dry grass. Once ignition starts, combustible material may easily fuel to feed the fires central spot which then becomes bigger and wider. The initial stage of ignition is normally referred to as “surface fire” stage. This may then lead to feeding on adjoining trees and the fire flame becomes higher and higher, thus becoming “crown fire.” At this stage fire becomes uncontrollable and takes hold of the adjoining landscape which may become excessive and could last for a very long time depending on prevailing weather conditions and terrain. Most often we have but one chance to extinguish a fire before it becomes a "Crown fire". [Source]. Wild fires in the rural areas of wilderness can be a frightening experience to escape from. Stay alert to sounds, smells and wind direction. Have a clear understanding as to where evacuation routes lead to. Don't get caught in a predicament that places lives at risk.  While camping as a visitor to a forested area it is important to scout out and make note of attributes and conditions mentioned above.  [Survive a forest fire]

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Preventative measures / fighting back

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It is always a great feeling of security when preventive measures work. Especially when it comes to fires. Detection and confirmation of fire is the first step. Measures of suppression are equally important. Because fire sprinkler systems react so quickly, they can dramatically reduce the heat, flames, and smoke produced in a fire. Fire sprinklers have been around for more than a century, protecting commercial and industrial properties as well as public buildings. What many people don't realize is that the same life-saving technology is also available for homes, where roughly 85% of all civilian fire deaths occur. As many as 90 percent of wild-land fires in the United States are caused by humans. Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. These fires put firefighters at risk and commit fire suppression resources that may be needed for other incidents. This segment of preventative measures reiterates the importance of clearing foliage away from dwellings to be occupied. Discuss escape plans and hold fire drills when appropriate. Familiarity with fire extinguishers is an advantage. Knowledge is valuable, ... action is key to survival. Be prepared and ready for action.  [Fire suppression for the home]  ,  [Wildfire defense for our homes]  ,  [Managing fire in the wilderness] , [Caution of campfires]  ,  [Campfire safety]  ,  [What to do when trapped]

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Announcing a fire for the sake of other

Additional actions of safety include announcing and alarming others to a fire.  Bang on doors and holler loudly with the intent to cause immediate attention. If in a dwelling find a fire pull station if the system alarms has not yet been activated. Help others when possible. What goes around comes around, ... because lives really do matter.

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Capture 20Video #1      

Video #2

 

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Additional resources

What to do in a fire / Kids health

Getting out alive / How to survive a fire

Prepare children to survive a residential fire

How to escape a fire while in a vehicle

P2S