If Your House Is On Fire, Get Out Immediately!

2 Feb

A few months ago I came across a post on WordPress that asked readers what they would save if their house was on fire. I was flabbergasted to learn that anyone would encourage people to risk their lives dallying when their house is on fire as they think about and select cherished items to save. 

I commented on this blogger’s post that she was being irresponsible and that it was just plain stupid to write such a post. She never removed her post. She never responded to me. Nobody else commented on the post or “liked” her post the last time I checked.

Recently, a similar post was sent out on the Daily Post by one of the staff at WordPress:


The question was, and I’m rephrasing, What five things from your burning house would you grab? The immediate response that came to my mind was, my *SS and to haul it the hell out of here! The heck with the other four things!

Why would anyone try to put it in someone else’s mind that they should try to salvage things when their house is on fire? Without a doubt, someone will read it and believe that that’s what you should do!

After browsing the Internet, it seems that getting your possessions while your house is burning down is the thought of the day! It isn’t just WordPress bloggers who are misinformed.

Here are the FACTS about what you should do if your house is on fire. I’ve taken these FACTS from the Red Cross website


where they list much more information than I have provided here and you should visit there to learn much more.

Their first recommendation is this: 

If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL for help. (Caps theirs, not mine.)

Fires can ignite very quickly and without warning, leaving you and your loved ones with little or no time to escape.

**This one bears repeating: “little or NO TIME TO ESCAPE”. Is there any part of that that anyone doesn’t understand? Because I would be happy to explain it further.

By creating and practicing an escape plan, family members can save valuable time in the event of a fire by knowing exactly how to act.

The Red Cross response to home fires has increased by 10% since 2000. (I’m not going to do all the work for you. You should find out why that is.)

Home fires are the single most common disaster across the nation.

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. And, two out of three cooking fires start with the range or stove.

Every 2  1/2 hours someone is killed in a home fire. In a typical year, 20,000 people are injured in home fires.

Only 26 percent of families have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

Each year over 200 people die from carbon monoxide produced by fuel burning appliances in the home including furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters.

Home fires can affect any home at any time. However, children under five and adults over 65 face the highest risk of dying in a home fire.

74 percent of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

**To emphasize further the lack of time you have in a house fire, I am quoting here from another quote (http://fox6now.com/2012/02/21/what-would-you-do-if-your-house-caught-on-fire/) taken from firefighter Chris Gauthier: ‘Smoke is the number one thing that kills people in fires. The first thing you should worry about is getting out of your house.”‘

Again, this bears repeating. He said:


THE FIRST THING YOU SHOULD WORRY ABOUT……IS GETTING OUT OF YOUR HOUSE.  Notice, he didn’t say get papers, mementos, books, gifts, etc. 

And my own two cents: If you don’t care about your own safety and the pain your family would feel if they lost you, and you are willing to jeopardize your safety by gathering your treasured junk, then think about the firefighter


Firefighter – sxc.hu/tony26 Tony Hathcock

who has to come into your burning house to try to save you and risk his own life. More than likely he has a family that he cares about and wants to go home to and they care about him. 

Here is a video that shows how fast a house fire can spread. It took 1.55 seconds, nearly two minutes, for the smoke to reach the smoke detectors. Seconds after that, the room was engulfed in flames. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piofZLySsN

While you are there on youtube, watch some of the other fire safety films. Nobody can predict how fast a fire will spread. Use your head and get out. And for God’s sake, don’t encourage anyone to grab their belongings.

Very Special Note: Michael Cossey, http://www.arkansasfire.net is a firefighter and the photographer who took the photo shown in the Featured Post widget of the female firefighter with the firehose.



15 Responses to “If Your House Is On Fire, Get Out Immediately!”

  1. reocochran February 9, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Thank you for your reminders of how quickly fires spread, the sad situation of 9/11 and all those who risked their lives at the time, or now are facing the cancers as results. Also, like someone said above, I have taken classes that were more of a thought provoking exercise, than suggestion for action, to come up with a list of your 5 most valuable possessions. One was in a college Psychology class and another was in a writing class. Never go and search for stuff when you need to get out of a burning home!


  2. nutsfortreasure February 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    Did you read my REAL STORY after the BURNT ONE I did mine that way because of my real life story Thanks for writing and the exercise on word press maybe was to highlight the junk that would be saved as it said all living things were already safely out. I hate fires Marcella and I would grab my cat and dog and GO My Uncle was a Fire Chief in a city outside of Boston it was a rough life for him. Thanks for letting me know your wrote a reply THANK YOU


    • Marcella Rousseau February 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

      You’re welcome. I can’t remember if I read your REAL STORY or not. I’ve read so many fire stories today. I will go back and check. My best friend is married to a firefighter who is fighting cancer as a result of being a part of the 9/11 devastation. It is a very dangerous job at times. I’m glad that they are so close-knit. Yes, I imagine the Boston area would be very busy as well being that it is such a large city. I spent a day there once visiting the sights. You should write a post about your uncle and what his life was like ; – )


      • nutsfortreasure February 4, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

        So many were injured and not even knowing it after 9/11 😦 Sorry to hear he is suffering


        • Marcella Rousseau February 4, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

          Thank you. I am sorry too : – ( You’re right. They are so selfless. I guess if I’m going to be talking about him I should get the facts straight. Just because they are so modest about it, doesn’t mean that I have to be! Chief Jack Corcoran was the Commander of Battalion 52 but was brought back into Special Operations to help in the rebuilding effort after 9/11.He remained in SOC until he retired from the FDNY in January 2003. I’ve known Linda, Jack’s wife since I was 5 years old. Linda, Jack and I double-dated decades ago and I called them a few weeks after 9/11 and spoke to Jack to remind him that we doubled-dated (I dated Jack’s friend). It cracked him up because it was so long ago (he and Linda having 5 kids and all in the interim), that it was a stretch for him to remember! I was so worried and dragging my feet about making that phone call because I was afraid that Linda would answer and say that Jack died with all the other fire chiefs that died in the collapse of the buildings. With circumstances the way they are now, I’m so glad I made that call and that I could bring him some sunshine. I know Linda appreciated it. I wish I could do something now. I guess this post is my way of doing something for them.


  3. silverbells2012 February 4, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    I was came across a coursebook (I teach English as a Foreign Language) which actually had an exercise asking students which 5 things they would save in a fire. None of the things they could choose from included ‘myself and those I love’.
    I am a fire warden at work and in one training session we were shown a video of just how quickly a fire will destroy a room: 2 minutes.
    Of course, you will probably asphyxiate before then, so crawl on the floor as low as you can and GET OUT!!!


    • Marcella Rousseau February 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

      What is the copyright date of the book? Nice to “meet” another fire warden! I had completely forgotten that I had was assigned that post in a contract position at Eli Lilly 10 years ago. Did you have to wear the orange jacket? It is daunting to be responsible for so many others. And, unbelievable that they would ignore me when I told them during a fire drill that they need to get back to their cubicles! There is truly a lack of information out there when it comes to indoor fires.

      Yes, in the video on youtube in the link of my post, it only took 2 minutes for the room to be engulfed in flames and smoke too. Thank you for your comment and for helping to raise everyone’s consciousness about house fires.


      • silverbells2012 February 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

        I’m afraid I don’t have any details about the book as it was at least ten years ago that I came across it and I now work at a completely different educational establishment.
        But, yes, I do get to wear an orange jacket – though fortunately not very often as the fires usually stay in the chemistry department, a long way from us, and the rest of the time I can’t act as a warden as my duty of care is to the students in my class, so I can’t go back into the building once I’ve got them out.
        I used to be the health and safety coordinator for my department and I must say that I didn’t actually mind the responsibility. It did help that we were ‘low’ risk, but I was amazed by the lack of appreciation for how dangerous a fire can be.


        • Marcella Rousseau February 7, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

          I remember one day I forgot to take the jacket off. lol! My boss ribbed me about that. (I was so engrossed in my work, you know.) lol. I can’t remember where they had fires at Lilly but I vaguely remember that there had been a serious fire somewhere years before I was there. Their buildings are sprawled all over and they are always expanding. I also worked at IUPUI (Indiana University, Purdue University at Indianapolis). Fire engines were not a rare sight and they were always in their underground tunnels. I never did get that. I wasn’t a fire warden then. Yes, I agree with you. There is definitely a lack of appreciation. I get nervous on July 4th because of the fireworks. Especially this past summer when we had such a serious drought. They didn’t allow sales of fireworks, but people still bought them somewhere or maybe had leftovers from the year before, and set them off. I was afraid someone’s roof would catch fire or even someone’s lawn and I sure didn’t want it to be mine! Fortunately, someone called the police or maybe they were just out looking for people setting them off, so it didn’t last long.


          • silverbells2012 February 9, 2013 at 6:54 am #

            They might have had fireworks left over from previous celebrations. July is not a good time for them, that’s for sure!!!


  4. camparigirl February 3, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    I live in a high fire danger area, up a canyon, and I have witnessed first hand how fast fire moves. Unlike a fire started by, say, a short circuit or a cigarette butt on the couch, if you know fire is a danger you have to live with, it’s good to be prepared with a list of things to take in case of sudden evacuation. When I moved here, I took a training with a fire prevention organization and I now have a list of things to grab if I have 15 minutes/30 or more. Any important documents (such as the insurance policy on the house) are on the first list. My neighbours know my animals and I know theirs in case I won’t be home and they need to get them for me. Trying to stay in the house to protect your belongings is foolish. Saving lives is paramount.


    • Marcella Rousseau February 3, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      Yes, it’s a little bit different when you’re talking about outdoors. Wind direction, firefighters doing their deliberate burn areas, and so on which contribute to knowing how much time you might have. In a house, you can be overcome by smoke so quickly and if it’s nighttime, you might not even realize how smokey it is because you can’t see. One good tip I came across was to always keep shoes near your bed in case of a fire. You wouldn’t want to be outdoors barefoot for any length of time, especially if you lose everything in the fire! Firefighters might provide you with a blanket if it’s cold or snowy/rainy, but if you’re barefoot, you’re out of luck! I always keep shoes near my bed because I’ve got an orthotic in my right shoe and I need that support. I can’t wear my slippers for very long; only to take a bathroom break in the middle of the night : – ) In a house, if you’re asleep, all you can hope for is that your smoke detector is sensitive enough to give you enough time to escape. Writing and researching this post has made me more aware of the risks. We had a terrible incident happen here in Indianapolis in December. 33 homes in a subdivision were s0 severely damaged they ultimately had to be demolished after an explosion and fire. There was an intense investigation. It took over a month before several people were charged. Two people died in the explosion. There were amazing feats of heroism. It was an unbelievable story.


  5. lovinghomemade February 3, 2013 at 4:16 am #

    I think this is a timely reminder, thank you. The smoke in the terrible fire in Brazil killed so many people as they couldn’t get out. But one victim that really sticks in my mind is one of the band members who escaped and then went back in for his instrument. He didn’t make it back out.


    • Marcella Rousseau February 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

      Thank you so much for your comment. At first, I thought you were going to say that he went back in for a friend or for another band member. But to think he lost his life for a musical instrument! It is a perfect example of my post. Was it worth his life? No matter how expensive that musical instrument was, it certainly wasn’t worth his life to his loved ones. Yes, these rules can apply outside the home environment too and when it comes to musical events, the lives lost are too often, many. Thank you for speaking up. It is very much appreciated.



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