Fires can start and spread quickly, easily going from manageable to out of control in seconds. What do you do when a fire breaks out unexpectedly? Our readers offered some valuable tips on how to keep your wits about you and stay safe in a blaze.
Chuck Roydhouse

Chuck Roydhouse

Chuck Roydhouse is a retired professional firefighter, owner of Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County, and President of CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America). He has a degree in Fire Science from Shepherd University and 25 years of experience as a career firefighter.

Call 911 immediately and Assess the Situation

If a fire breaks out in your establishment, the first thing you want to do is call 911. Fire burns rapidly, so it’s best to alert the fire department and get them on the way, even if you end up being able to extinguish it yourself. Once you’ve called 911, assess the situation. Is the fire something you could potentially put out with a fire extinguisher or has it spread beyond a single area or object already?

If you don’t have a fire extinguisher nearby, or you do but the fire is not small and contained to a single area, alert everyone else in the building and leave the building immediately, closing all doors as you exit the building. The reason you want to close all doors is that if doors or windows are left open, oxygen from outside will be sucked into the building, feeding the fire.

If you believe you can put out the fire and safely get out of the building if your efforts fail, grab the closest fire extinguisher. When using the fire extinguisher, you want to remember the acronym P-A-S-S: Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep. Don’t aim directly at the center of the fire. Aiming the extinguisher directly at the center of the fire can actually cause the fire to spread. Instead, aim around the outside edges and use a sweeping motion to work towards the center until the fire is extinguished.

Keep Calm and Follow the Necessary Protocols

If a fire breaks out in your establishment, you must always remember to keep calm, remember and follow the necessary protocols and pull the closest fire alarm. If it’s possible and safe, you should do your best to go to the planned assembly point, contact the authorities, and follow orders. In case of a fire, it’s important to be calm, quick, while still keeping the necessary rules in mind.

Simon Elkjær

Simon Elkjær

Simon Elkjær, Chief Marketing Officer of avXperten.
Zurriane Bennett

Zurriane Bennett

Zurriane Bennett, Creator of Positive Self Defense. Mr. Bennett is a retired U.S. Marine, Chief Warrant Officer, Aircraft Fire Rescue, and Emergency Services Officer. He is also a teacher, speaker, inventor, and the author of 5 books.

5 Fire Survival Tips

  • If you can extinguish the fire easily and quickly, do so. The items to do so in, let’s say a kitchen fire, could be as simple as covering the fire with a pot lid and turning off the gas or fuel source. In other cases, it could be as simple as grabbing the right extinguisher and spraying the content at the base of the flames. A cool head and common sense can go a long way. So, if the right equipment is available, use it if you know how to use it correctly.
  • Where you are in the building is very important. Are you on an upper floor, in the basement, subbasement, or near hazmat chemicals or fuel?
  • The nearest exit is always the one you should use, as long as it is safe. If it is not, you will need to have a second and maybe even a third exit choice. The fire is the danger along with the smoke and other gases that can be produced by the fire. Those fumes can be very toxic, causing collapse or death. If you can wet a cloth with water, or a neutral liquid, do so and place the cloth over both your mouth and nose. This can and will act as an emergency filter. If your location has an emergency kit near you, use it.
  • Smoke can reduce visibility. Stay against the walls as you make your way out of the building. While doing so, also be sensitive to heat on the doors and wall as there may be hot spots. Feel with the backs of your hands. The backs of the hands are more sensitive. Do not enter areas or open doors, or touch the handle where you feel the heat. Listen up for firefighters as they can guide you out in the smokey areas.
  • Survival is key. Use all of your senses and don’t run to the nearest area without keeping your head in an emergency. The last thing that you want to do is to run to the danger that you are trying to get away from. Doing your best to keep a clear head can save your life.

In short, you want to get out of the establishment safely. You also don’t want to become part of the problem.

Remember, when you enter the building, always look for and pay attention to the locations of the exits. Be aware! Accidents and emergencies happen.

Being aware is always good.

Do Not Panic, Stay Calm, Think and Act Accordingly

Think and act fast, remember the way to the fire exit, and don’t waste your time picking unnecessary stuff. Your life is more important than your files! Just go straight to the fire exit hall and make sure to keep yourself down low. Do not panic and stay calm because there’s a chance that you might end up confused by the way if you let your anxiety trigger while you are in this critical situation.

Alex Perkins

Alex Perkins

Alex Perkins, Co-founder of All the Stuff.

Bertie Cowan

Bertie Cowan, Founder of Effortless Outdoors. He has been enjoying the wilderness for as long as he can remember, getting out camping, hiking, and backpacking whenever possible.

Call the Rescue Services and Follow the Fire Drills

When a fire occurs in the workplace, it has the potential to disrupt the business and put your employees in harm’s way. All establishments should have fire safety measures in place and run regular fire drills. If a fire breaks out, the person that discovers the fire ought to raise the caution instantly, no matter if it is a big fire or a small one. Every employee should be trained to do so.

Fire Rescue Services should be contacted immediately, prepared with the address and name of the establishment. There should be escape routes that should be clear at all times and every employee and customer should head to their nearest emergency fire exit. Evacuation of the premises should be swift and prompt. An assembly point should be part of the employee training, a headcount needs to be done, and no one should be allowed to return to the building to collect personal belongings.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.