All fires in the home are dangerous, but you can’t put out every household fire with a big splash of water. In fact, doing that might make things much, much worse.
In 2016, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recorded 352,000 house fires. Out of these fires 2,735 people died and 10,750 were injured. Home fires have declined by 52 percent since the 1980s, but they’re still a big problem, because, let’s be honest, most of them are preventable and due to user error, aka you done messed up, friend! In just two minutes, a fire can become life threatening. Check out our survival guide below to know how to handle each type of house fire.
If something catches fire in the oven or broiler:
DO NOT open the oven door. If you open the door, you will end up looking like the crazy scientist on “Back to The Future” and also get severely injured. Fire needs oxygen to survive, and by opening the oven door you make the fire spread. Keep the oven door shut and turn the oven off. Most fires will eventually die down inside the oven without doing any damage.
If you get into a greasy situation:
Never throw water on a grease fire. Water and oil don’t mix and throwing water on a grease fire can cause the fire to spread. Instead, turn off the heat to the stove immediately. Next, cover the flames with a metal lid; a glass lid can shatter. In the event of a large grease fire, use baking soda, table salt or a fire extinguisher.
If a wire or an electrical appliance catches fire:
Douse it in baking soda. Baking soda contains sodium bicarbonate, the same stuff in a fire extinguisher, but, like, if you have an actual fire extinguisher, go ahead and use that, silly! Don’t use water in this situation because water conducts electricity. For prevention, don’t forget to unplug appliances daily and pay attention to breakers that trip, electrical appliances that shock you when you touch them, worn out wires and discolored wall outlets.
If giving up smoking isn’t the ticket for you:
Put out your cigarette all the way. Never smoke in bed. This would be the equivalent of lighting a match and going to bed. . .umm. . .and never leave a cigarette unattended.
It is time to call the fire department when:
- The fire is bigger than the size of a basketball;
- The fire is spreading;
- Smoke is blocking your vision;
- You feel endangered; and
- You’re not sure if it’s an emergency.