Smothering or extinguishing fire in its initial stage is the best way to ensure it does not become a full-blown life threatening of that. However, based on the type of materials that are being burned along with the intensity and severity of the fire will determine the best methods for extinguishing it.
There are tens of thousands of household fires in the U.S. every year, resulting in hundreds of deaths, millions of dollars' worth of property damage, and severe injury. Often times, a home fire is a result of an accident or carelessness. The most common causes of a household fire include:
- Inattentiveness when cooking, or carelessly placing flammable items around the stove
- Carelessness when using candles
- Accidents involving solvents, propane gas and gasoline
- Lack of care or bad judgment while intoxicated or using drugs
- Overloading electrical circuits in the house to blow fuses or trip breakers
- Loose electrical connections
- Misuse or carelessness around barbecue grills
- Improperly maintained heating equipment
- Placing flammable materials including furniture, curtains and draperies too close to heating equipment
- Improper maintenance of flammable liquids including cleaning agents, fuel, solvents, adhesives, thinners, paints, and other flammable materials
- Malfunctioning electrical equipment, components and electronic devices
- Placing electrical extension cords under tape, rugs or carpeting
- Short-circuits, especially in wet areas such as the bathroom, kitchen or outdoors
- Improper use of outlets, extension cords and frayed cords
- Careless smoking by not extinguishing smoking materials properly, or smoking in bed while falling asleep
- Children playing with fire using lighters or matches
Common Sense Rules Concerning Household Fires
There are specific general rules concerning a household fire that can quickly take hold indoors and outside. When the fire has spread to different rooms, other structures or other areas, or emitting smoke has already reached head height, it is imperative that all occupants are alerted to quickly evacuate the premises. No physical material is worth fighting a fire for, because personal safety always comes first. General rules usually include:
- Electrical Fire – Extinguishing an electrical fire usually requires turning off the power or stopping a short circuit at the electrical box. If a safety blanket is available, smother the fire during the early stages after the power supply has been terminated. The simplest solution for putting out an electrical fire is to use a fire extinguisher rated for electricity. Aiming the nozzle of the extinguisher at the seat or base of the fire tends to be the most effective means to extinguish it.
- Oil/Liquid Fire – It is imperative to avoid throwing or pouring water on a liquid or oil fire. Water will not mix with the oily or liquid substance, but will simply go underneath it, creating dangerous steam. Instead, smother it with a safety blanket if available, or use a fire extinguisher if the instructions rate it for a chemical or liquid fire. Liquids and oils often provide the fuel for stove top fires. However, many kitchen fires can be stopped by placing a lid on the skillet, or using salt or baking soda to extinguish grease fires. Never use water in a kitchen fire fed by liquids or oil.
- Organic Fire – Water tends to be the easiest solution for smothering any type of organic fire including burning wood or paper. In addition, a safety blanket used for extinguishing fire is effective during the early stage, after approximately 10 minutes of smothering. In fact, fire extinguishers rated for organic materials work exceptionally well and fast.
- Gas Fire – Fires created by fuel, propane gas, natural gas and other gaseous vapors are highly flammable. It is best to avoid the dangerous situation of being involved in an explosion caused by flammable gas. Instead, evacuate to a safe distance from the area on fire, and quickly call the fire department for help.
Maintaining quality fire extinguishers around the house in multiple locations is a simple solution for minimizing the potential damage and risk of injury, burns, or death in the home. It is essential that everybody in the household have a firm understanding of where the fire extinguishers are located in the kitchen, basement, sleeping quarters and other areas of the house.
Remain vigilant when using candles or smoking, and maintain electrical appliances in the house. Be sure the smoke detectors and fire alarms are in proper working order to increase the safety level of every occupant at home.