All About Fires

Every day, Americans experience the horror of fire. Unfortunately, however, most people don't understand fire. Only when we know the true nature of fire can we prepare ourselves and our families. Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die and approximately 20,000 are injured in fires, many of which can be prevented.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) believes fire deaths can be reduced by teaching people basic facts about fire. Below are some simple facts that explain the particular characteristics of fire.

Fire is Fast

In a fire, there is little time to react. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes a few short minutes for thick, black smoke to fill a house. In that time, an entire house can be engulfed in flames. Most fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to a fire, you won't have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is only time to escape, and the lives of you and your loved ones are the most important things to focus on.

Fire is Hot

Heat is more threatening than flames. A fire's heat alone has the ability to kill. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100°F at floor level, and can rise to 600°F at eye level. Inhaling this super hot air can scorch your lungs. This heat can melt clothes to your skin, and in 5 minutes, a room can get so hot that everything in it ignites at once; this is called flashover.

Fire is Dark

Fire isn't bright, it's pitch black. Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness. If you wake up to a fire, you may be blinded, disoriented, and unable to find your way around the home you've lived in for years.

Fire is Deadly

Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire uses up the oxygen you need and produces smoke and poisonous gases that kill. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented, and short of breath. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door. You may not wake up in time to escape.