Of all the natural disasters, fire is the only one that is both beneficial to man, and his environment as well as destructive, and deadly. Humans have depended on it for centuries for things from cooking, and heating to a major source of lighting. And yet, thousands of people die each year as a result of either house fires or wildfires, with direct property losses running into billions.
You are only going to find fires at two places; indoors or outdoors. Outdoors would be your forest fires or wildfires. Indoors would be building fires, and house fires.
Fires need three things if they are to continue to burn; oxygen, heat and fuel. So, if you want to stop a fire, you have to eliminate at least one of those elements. Take away the oxygen and you can extinguish a fire. Take away the fuel, and you can put out a fire.
Household fires are a major cause of concern for all, and these are mainly attributed to (i) electrical accidents or neglect, (ii) smoking, (iii) kitchen accidents, (iv) heating equipment, (v) burning refuse/rubbish, (vi) hazardous goods, and (vii) arson.
To protect yourself, you should know how fires spread.
- Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call.
- In just two minutes, it can become life-threatening.
- In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.
- The heat, and smoke can be more dangerous than the flames.
- Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs.
- Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy.
- Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep.
- Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.
Fires can spread so quickly. Please be prepared and make sure your family is aware of the emergency plans you have in place. Practice your evacuation plan regularly so everyone knows what to do, where to meet, and how to get out of your home quickly.
The threat for people living near forest areas or using recreational facilities in wilderness areas is real. Dry conditions at various times of the year and in various parts of the country greatly increase the potential for of this type of natural disaster.
Advance planning and knowing how to protect buildings in these areas can lessen the devastation. There are several safety precautions that you can take to reduce the risk of losses.
- To reduce the risk, you’ll need to consider the topography of your property and the nature of the vegetation close by.
- Learn about the history of wildfire in your area.
- Be aware of recent weather. A long period without rain increases the risk of wildfire.
- Determine your community’s ability to respond to wildfire.
- Are the roads wide enough to allow emergency equipment to get through?