During a fire, the flames are not the only danger and many people believe that once a fire has been extinguished, they are safe. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. Just like a flood can leave your home with structural damage and health hazards long after the flood has gone. Fires do the same thing with smoke.
Most fire related deaths that occur in the home are not caused by the flames but by smoke inhalation. It is easy for somebody to say that the owners of a property know the layout and so they an escape quickly, but if you have never been in a fire then you just don’t know.
When a fire breaks out in a property, the smoke may be so thick and dense that the occupants are disoriented. In order to burn, fire requires oxygen and consumes much of the available oxygen that individuals need to breathe and remain conscious. This can happen so quickly that occupants are overcome and unable to reach easily accessible exits.
As the fire consumes oxygen, it releases carbon monoxide in to the air, which we know is deadly. As well as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, hydrogen cyanide can be released from burning plastics and phosgene from household products such as vinyl materials.
Smoke Reduces Oxygen
Because Smoke is heavier than the gases around it, such as oxygen, it displaces them. This means that in enclosed spaces such as a home, less oxygen is able to enter the space from another source. Normal breathable air is made of approximately 21% oxygen. When the smoke displaces this oxygen to lower amounts, breathing not only becomes difficult, but there are other physiological problems as well. At around 17%, people start to experience impaired judgment and fine motor skills. The problems compound until unconscious at around 9%, and cardiac arrest at levels close to 6%.
Safety Steps That you Can Take
It is essential to have a safe escape route that is protected by fire doors to halt the spread of smoke and fire.
No one can prevent every fire from starting but you can reduce risks to the lives of others and your property by ensuring the following:
- Fire doors are all in good working order
- Evacuation plans are up to date and all family members know exactly what to do if there is a fire
- All escape routes are kept clear
- Fire doors not wedged open
- Everyone is educated on how to prevent fires
- Smoke alarms are working
- Always addressing the needs of those at higher risk of fire injury, such as the elderly, people with mobility issues and children.
Reducing Smoke Damage to Your Property
Since smoke can also have powerful negative effects on your property, it’s important to do what you can to lessen the damage. A quality air purifier can pull out a good amount of harmful particulates and increase your air quality. There are also several products for smoke odor removal that can be applied in a pinch to reduce smoke issues. Many times, the only way to be sure you’ll get rid of all the smoke problems is to hire a restoration company. An adept property restoration company has industrial equipment and the right cleaners to make quick work of any smoke remnants and will get your property as close to normal as it can be. If you want to tackle the smoke damage yourself, check out this guide I found online.