Back to Hazards Directory
- Fires can double in size every 30-60 seconds
- In eight minutes a fire can grow by 64 times!
- Progression of a structural fire to the point of "flashover" (the very rapid spreading of fire due to the super-heating of room contents and other combustibles) generally occurs in 7 to 10 minutes!
- In a fire, minutes, even seconds could mean the difference between life and death!
- A reduction of only 2 to 3 minutes in the completion of a rescue operation could increase a fire victim's survivability eight fold!
GET OUT and STAY OUT:
It is important to realize that once you have made your way out of a burning building you may already be suffering the effects from lack of oxygen. These effects include:
- at 21% Oxygen Level - Normal atmospheric level;
- at 19.5% Oxygen Level - Minimum healthful level;
- at 15-19% Oxygen Level - Decreased stamina and coordination, also may induce early symptoms described below;
- at 12-14% Oxygen Level - Breathing rate increases with exertion, increase in heart rate. Impaired coordination, perception, and judgment;
- at 10-12% Oxygen Level - Breathing further increases in rate and depth, lips turn blue. Poor judgment;
- at 8-10% Oxygen Level - Mental failure, fainting, unconsciousness, nausea, and vomiting;
- at 6 - 8% Oxygen Level - Fatal after 6-8 minutes;
- at 4 - 6% Oxygen Level - Coma in 40 seconds, convulsions, respiration ceases, and death.
One of the major effects of lack of oxygen is the impairment of judgment. You may not realize it, but the possible exposure of lack of oxygen on the way out may impair your ability to think clearly and rationally. Even if you are not affected, others who escaped with you may display this impairment of judgment.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO PREVENT OTHERS FROM RE-ENTERING!
- Another hazard which exists in a burning building is the presence of toxic gases. Carbon Monoxide is a main by-product of fire. It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. In high concentration it can immediately cause unconsciousness and subsequent death. Even in moderate amounts carbon monoxide can cause impairment of mental functions much similar to the lack of oxygen.
- Fire itself is a serious hazard in that it can cause fatal or debilitating burn injuries. A building fire can generate heat upwards of 1500°F. Keep in mind that water boils at 212°F, and that most foods are cooked in temperatures of less than 500°F. There is the possible danger of flashover where a room is immediately engulfed in flames in an explosion-like reaction.
- Gas mains, propane tanks, and even small arms ammunition can explode causing serious injury.
- The structural integrity of the building can be affected during fire. Ceilings and walls can collapse on top of you, the floors can fall from underneath your feet, and other structures such as stairways or porches can collapse.
- Often electrical lines can become exposed inside the building and fall from outside connections to the ground on the exterior of the building. This can result in electrocution.
Go to a safe place (preferably prearranged) far enough away from the building in case of collapse or explosion and perform a head count of those who were in the building with you.
If someone is missing it is critically important that this be conveyed to arriving firefighting personnel. Tell them who and how many people are missing and where they were last seen.
DO NOT GO BACK IN AND TRY TO FIND THOSE MISSING