Surviving a fire in your home

The Middleport fire chief says another home was destroyed just across the street the week before.
The Middleport fire chief says another home was destroyed just across the street the week before.
Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 10:06 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - There are some simple things you can do to survive if a fire ignites in your home.

“Just the simple act of closing a door can make such a difference in your family’s likelihood in surviving a fire,” said James Brumfield, president of the Truckee Meadows Firefighter Foundation.

There can be a 900-degree difference with the door shut; from a thousand degrees outside in the fire, to just a hundred degrees in the bedroom. There are many examples of houses destroyed by fires, with entire rooms still untouched because the door was shut. And if your smoke alarm goes off, proceed with caution.

“Put a hand on that door, start low, work your way up the door. Because as we know, heat rises,” added Brumfield. “Touch the door handle, if the door handle’s hot we know we don’t want to open that door.”

If you can’t get out, open a window for fresh air. And use it to call for help.

“If you’re unable to evacuate the house, hang something from a window, explained Brumfield. “Open a window and yell to firefighters as you see them arrive on scene. Try to get someone’s attention to let them know that you’re up there.”

You also want to try and keep your rooms free of clutter, to better assist your rescue. Make it a nightly routine with your kids, as sort of a game, picking up stuff before they go to bed.

“When there’s books all over the floor and stuffed animals and toys, and (we have) reduced visibility. Wearing thick gloves, hearing can be difficult.” added Brumfield. “We’re trying to as quickly as we can identify what we have in our hands, so we can clear that and move on and look for victims that might be inside that structure.”

Also come up with an evacuation plan and practice it. Make sure everyone in the home has an escape route, and a meeting place once outside the home.

“Make it very simple, very identifiable,” continued Brumfield. “A place that the entire family can recognize, but that you’re also going to be out of the way of incoming vehicles that are focused on the fire.”

And be as specific as possible when calling 911. Tell them if people are still trapped inside, and where they likely are. And most importantly, don’t panic.

“If you hear your smoke alarm going off, you wake up to smoke in your room, we want you to first take a breath,” said Brumfield. “Realize what’s going on around you, get down low to the ground, call 911, work on a way to getting out of the structure.”

You can get more information about how to survive a house fire, and resources for forming an escape plan, by clicking the link below.

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