Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die and more than 20,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented. Planning and developing an escape plan would greatly reduce fire deaths and injuries. Direct property loss due to fires is estimated at $8.6 billion annually. During the cold months, the frequency of fires increased significantly.
To protect yourself, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of fire. Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.
Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.