As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” This is especially true regarding fire safety.
Knowing what to do in a fire is important, but knowing what NOT to do is equally important.
In this blog post, we will discuss some things you should never do in a fire.
Avoiding these actions can keep yourself and others safe in a fire emergency. So, let’s get started!
- 1 10 Things You Should Never Do In A Fire
- 2 Do Not Ignore The Fire Alarm
- 3 Do Not Hesitate To Call Emergency Services
- 4 Do Not Waste Time Gathering Belongings
- 5 Do Not Use Elevators
- 6 Do Not Open Hot Doors
- 7 Do Not Neglect Smoke Inhalation
- 8 Do Not Hide In Enclosed Spaces
- 9 Do Not Forget To Close the Doors Behind You
- 10 Do Not Re-Enter The Building
- 11 Do Not Disregard Fire Safety Measures
- 12 Conclusion
10 Things You Should Never Do In A Fire
Fire is a dangerous and unpredictable element that can cause tremendous property damage and cost human lives.
Do Not Ignore The Fire Alarm
If you hear a fire alarm or see smoke, never assume it’s a false alarm. Take it seriously and react immediately.
The fire alarm is designed to alert you to a potential fire and prompt you to take necessary precautions.
Here’s why you should never ignore a fire alarm:
Early warning: Fire alarms are usually equipped with smoke detectors or heat sensors that can detect the presence of smoke or elevated temperatures.
They are designed to detect fires at their early stages, providing you with crucial time to respond and evacuate safely.
The rapid spread of fire: Fires can spread rapidly, particularly in enclosed spaces or buildings with flammable materials.
Ignoring a fire alarm means you risk the fire growing out of control before realizing the danger.
Toxic smoke and gases: Fire produces smoke, which contains toxic gases and particles that can be extremely harmful when inhaled.
The smoke can significantly threaten your health and safety even if you don’t see flames or feel immediate heat.
The fire alarm serves as an early warning system, allowing you to escape before the smoke becomes overwhelming.
Structural integrity: Fires can weaken the structural integrity of a building. Ignoring a fire alarm and continuing with your normal activities could put you at risk of being trapped or injured by collapsing structures.
Increased danger to others: Ignoring a fire alarm endangers your life and puts others at risk.
By promptly responding to the alarm, you can alert others and help facilitate a swift evacuation for everyone nearby.
Do Not Hesitate To Call Emergency Services
As soon as you become aware of a fire, dial the emergency number for your country (e.g., 911 in the United States) to inform them about the situation.
Provide accurate information about the location and nature of the fire.
Here’s why you should never hesitate to call emergency services:
Professional assistance: Emergency services, such as firefighters, paramedics, or police, are trained to handle various emergencies, including fires.
They have the knowledge, skills, and resources to respond effectively and mitigate fire risks.
Calling emergency services ensures that trained professionals will be dispatched to the scene as quickly as possible.
Faster response time: The sooner emergency services are notified, the faster they can respond.
Rapid response is crucial in the case of a fire to minimize the spread of flames, reduce property damage, and save lives.
Every second counts regarding fire emergencies, so promptly contacting emergency services can significantly improve the outcome.
Additional resources and coordination: Emergency services have access to specialized equipment, vehicles, and personnel essential for firefighting, rescue operations, and medical assistance.
By calling them, you activate a network of resources that can effectively handle the emergency and coordinate efforts to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Proper documentation and investigation: Calling emergency services creates an official incident record.
This documentation is essential for insurance purposes, legal matters, and investigations into the cause and origin of the fire.
It helps in determining the appropriate actions to prevent future incidents and holds accountable those responsible if necessary.
Safety of others: By contacting emergency services, you are not only ensuring your safety but also helping to protect others who may be in the vicinity of the fire.
Emergency responders can assess the situation, evacuate affected areas, and provide medical attention to those in need.
Do Not Waste Time Gathering Belongings
Your safety should always be the top priority during a fire. Do not waste valuable time collecting personal belongings or important documents.
Leave everything behind and focus on getting out safely.
Here’s why you should not waste time gathering belongings:
The rapid spread of fire: Fires can escalate quickly, and the flames, heat, and smoke can rapidly fill a building.
What may seem controllable at first can become life-threatening within minutes.
Delaying your evacuation to gather belongings puts you at a higher risk of being trapped or injured by the advancing fire.
Toxic smoke and gases: Fires generate thick smoke that contains toxic gases and particles.
Inhaling this smoke can harm your health, leading to respiratory distress and disorientation.
Your primary focus should be to evacuate the premises as quickly as possible, as even a short delay can expose you to hazardous smoke.
Loss can be replaced, lives cannot: While personal belongings hold sentimental or monetary value, they can be replaced over time.
Human life, on the other hand, is irreplaceable. By prioritizing your safety and the safety of others, you give yourself the best chance of surviving the fire and avoiding potentially life-threatening situations.
Obstructed escape routes: Gathering belongings takes time and may obstruct your escape path or hinder the evacuation of others.
It is important to keep exit routes clear and accessible to ensure a swift and unobstructed evacuation.
Unpredictable fire behavior: Fires can be unpredictable, and their behavior can change rapidly due to various factors like oxygen availability, flammable materials, or structural conditions.
What may seem like a small fire initially can escalate into a larger and more dangerous situation, making it even more critical to prioritize your immediate safety and leave the premises promptly.
Do Not Use Elevators
Never use elevators during a fire. They can malfunction or become trapped due to power failures, leaving you vulnerable and unable to escape. Always use the stairs instead.
Here’s why you should never use elevators during a fire emergency:
Power failure: During a fire, there is a risk of power outages or disruptions. If you use an elevator when the power fails, you could become trapped inside, potentially endangering your life.
Elevators rely on electricity to function; power may be cut off or compromised in a fire situation.
Mechanical malfunction: Fires can cause damage to the infrastructure of a building, including elevator systems.
The intense heat, smoke, and water used during firefighting can impair the elevator’s operation or make it inoperable.
Relying on an elevator during a fire can put you at risk of being stranded between floors or in a malfunctioning elevator car.
Smoke-filled shafts: In the event of a fire, elevator shafts can fill with smoke, making them hazardous and difficult to navigate.
Attempting to use an elevator may expose you to toxic smoke and hinder your escape, as the shafts can act as chimneys, allowing the fire and smoke to spread throughout the building.
Delayed evacuation: Elevators are designed for normal use and unsuitable for emergencies like fires.
Using elevators can delay your evacuation and hinder the evacuation of others, potentially increasing the risk to everyone involved.
Stairways are typically the safest and most efficient means of evacuation during a fire.
Firefighter access: Firefighters and emergency responders need unobstructed access to stairwells and staircases to reach the affected areas and perform rescue operations.
Using elevators can hinder their efforts and delay their response time, making it more challenging for them to control the fire and rescue individuals in need.
Do Not Open Hot Doors
Before opening a door during a fire, touch it gently with the back of your hand. Do not open it if it feels hot or if you see smoke coming through the cracks.
The fire may be on the other side. Find an alternative escape route.
Here’s why you should be cautious and not open hot doors:
Fire on the other side: A hot door indicates a fire on the other side or in the vicinity.
Opening a hot door can allow flames, smoke, and heat to rush into your space, putting you at immediate risk of burns, inhalation, or becoming trapped in a dangerous area.
The rapid fire spread: Opening a hot door can introduce oxygen to the fire, potentially causing it to spread rapidly and intensify.
It can create a backdraft effect, where a sudden influx of oxygen can lead to an explosive fire eruption. This can pose a significant danger to you and others in the building.
Heat and smoke exposure: Hot doors indicate high temperatures, and opening them can expose you to intense heat and thick, toxic smoke.
Inhaling smoke can impair your ability to breathe and see clearly, making navigating and finding a safe exit difficult.
Structural integrity: During a fire, the structural integrity of a building may be compromised.
Opening a hot door can lead to the collapse of weakened structures, debris falling, or the door becoming a hazard.
It is crucial to prioritize your safety and avoid actions that could further endanger yourself or others.
Do Not Neglect Smoke Inhalation
Smoke inhalation is a significant hazard during a fire. Do not underestimate its dangers.
Stay low to the ground, cover your nose and mouth with a cloth if possible, and breathe through your nose to reduce the intake of smoke.
Here’s why you should take smoke inhalation seriously:
Toxic gases: Smoke from a fire contains a mixture of toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and other harmful substances.
Inhaling these gases can lead to dizziness, disorientation, impaired judgment, and even loss of consciousness. Prolonged exposure to toxic gases can be life-threatening.
Oxygen deprivation: Smoke can rapidly deplete the available oxygen in the air. Breathing in smoke reduces the amount of oxygen reaching your lungs, leading to difficulty breathing and potentially causing suffocation. Lack of oxygen can result in severe injury or death.
Irritant effects: Smoke is an irritant to the respiratory system. Inhaling smoke can cause coughing, wheezing, throat irritation, and difficulty speaking.
It can also trigger or worsen respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Reduced visibility: Smoke can quickly fill a room or a building, reducing visibility to almost zero. This can disorient you and make it challenging to find exits or navigate to safety.
The impaired visibility due to smoke inhalation can increase the risk of accidents and hinder evacuation efforts.
Do Not Hide In Enclosed Spaces
During a fire, avoid hiding in closets, bathrooms, or other small enclosed spaces. Instead, proceed to the nearest exit or an open area outside the building.
Here’s why hiding in enclosed spaces should be avoided:
Lack of oxygen: Enclosed spaces, such as closets, small rooms, or cabinets, have limited airflow.
Hiding in such spaces can quickly deplete the available oxygen, especially during a fire where flames consume oxygen and produce smoke. Lack of oxygen can lead to suffocation and unconsciousness.
Smoke inhalation: In a fire, smoke is a significant threat. It can fill enclosed spaces rapidly, making breathing difficult and causing smoke inhalation.
The toxic gases and particles in the smoke can be extremely harmful to your health and lead to respiratory distress, disorientation, and loss of consciousness.
The fire spread: Fires can spread rapidly, and hiding in an enclosed space may place you in direct proximity to the flames or heat source.
Enclosed spaces can become traps if the fire spreads and blocks your exit route. It is essential to have a clear path to escape and not limit your options by hiding in enclosed areas.
Lack of visibility: Hiding in an enclosed space can hinder your ability to see and assess the situation.
Reduced visibility due to smoke or darkness can make locating exits challenging or determine the safest route to escape.
Do Not Forget To Close the Doors Behind You
As you evacuate, close doors behind you to slow the spread of fire and smoke. This may help others by providing them additional time to escape and reducing the fire’s risk of further spreading.
Here’s why closing doors behind you is crucial:
Fire containment: Closing doors behind you can help slow down the spread of fire, smoke, and heat within the building.
Closed doors act as barriers, limiting the oxygen supply and reducing the potential for the fire to grow rapidly.
This containment can provide additional time for evacuation and help prevent the fire from spreading to other areas, potentially saving lives and reducing property damage.
Smoke and heat barrier: Closed doors can serve as a barrier against smoke and heat.
Smoke inhalation is a significant risk during a fire, and closing doors can help limit the infiltration of smoke into areas that are not directly affected by the fire.
Also, closed doors can help reduce heat transfer, giving you a safer exit path.
Improved visibility and navigation: Closing doors can help maintain clearer visibility and assist with navigation during evacuation.
By closing doors, you visually indicate the areas you have already searched or evacuated.
This can help you and emergency responders identify areas that may still need attention or contain individuals who require assistance.
Delayed fire spread: Closed doors can buy valuable time for emergency services to arrive and contain the fire.
By slowing down the spread of fire and smoke, closed doors provide a safer environment for firefighters to operate and carry out rescue operations.
Do Not Re-Enter The Building
Do not return inside for any reason once you have safely evacuated the building. Please leave it to the professionals to handle the situation.
Here’s why re-entering the building should be avoided:
Increased danger: Fires can be unpredictable and hazardous. Re-entering a burning or recently evacuated building puts you at a higher risk of encountering flames, smoke, intense heat, or structural instability.
The conditions inside the building can change rapidly and pose a severe threat to your safety.
Smoke and toxic gases: Fire produces thick smoke containing toxic gases and particles.
Re-entering a building filled with smoke exposes you to a high concentration of harmful substances, which can cause respiratory distress, disorientation, and even loss of consciousness.
The toxic gases present in smoke can be fatal in a short amount of time.
Structural instability: Fires can weaken the structural integrity of a building. Re-entering a burning or recently evacuated building puts you at risk of structural collapse.
Heat and fire damage can compromise the stability of floors, walls, and ceilings, making it extremely dangerous to be inside.
Hindering rescue efforts: Returning to a building that is being evacuated or amid a fire can hinder the efforts of firefighters and emergency responders.
It can divert their attention and resources from the primary task of extinguishing the fire, conducting rescue operations, and ensuring the safety of occupants.
Do Not Disregard Fire Safety Measures
Lastly, never overlook fire safety measures in your everyday life. Install and regularly test smoke detectors, maintain fire extinguishers, and familiarize yourself with evacuation routes in frequently visited buildings. Prevention and preparedness can save lives.
Here’s why fire safety measures should never be disregarded:
Prevention of fires: Fire safety measures, such as proper storage and handling of flammable materials, regular maintenance of electrical systems, and adherence to safety guidelines, help prevent fires from occurring in the first place.
Following these measures reduces the risk of fire incidents and protects yourself and others from potential harm.
These systems are designed to detect fires early, giving you more time to respond, evacuate, and alert emergency services.
Disregarding fire safety measures can result in malfunctioning or deactivated detection systems, jeopardizing your ability to detect a fire promptly.
Efficient evacuation: Fire safety measures, including well-marked exits, clear evacuation routes, and regular fire drills, are implemented to ensure a swift and safe evacuation during a fire emergency.
Following these measures increases your chances of escaping the building quickly and efficiently, minimizing the risk of injuries or fatalities.
Minimization of property damage: Fire safety measures also aim to limit the extent of property damage in the event of a fire.
These measures may include fire-resistant building materials, compartmentalization, and proper storage practices.
Disregarding fire safety measures can lead to a more significant fire spread, increased property damage, and financial loss.
Protection of lives: Fire safety measures are primarily implemented to protect human lives.
They provide guidelines and protocols to mitigate the risks associated with fires, enabling individuals to take appropriate actions to safeguard themselves and others.
Ignoring fire safety measures can put lives at risk and lead to injuries or loss of life.
When dealing with a fire, there are several key actions you should never take.
These include ignoring fire alarms, hesitating to call emergency services, wasting time gathering belongings, using elevators, opening hot doors, neglecting smoke inhalation, hiding in enclosed spaces, forgetting to close doors behind you, re-entering the building, and disregarding fire safety measures.
It is vital to prioritize your safety, follow evacuation procedures, and seek assistance from professionals to ensure the well-being of yourself and others during a fire emergency.
Hi, I m Aaron Smith, a firefighter, and creator of Firefighterline.com, a website that provides top-notch training courses for firefighting organizations. After completing my studies, I quickly rose through the fire service ranks, eventually becoming Captain at one of the busiest fire departments in the state.