The real deal about fires and how to respond

Hannah Heger, Trending Editor

We have all been told stories and given advice about what to do in case of a fire from the time we were young. 

But most of the time when there is a fire, our first reaction is to freak out and run away from the fire. Without thinking, some people run back inside the fire to grab either pets, important documents or any sort of personal property, but that’s causing more harm than good.

“The big thing is making sure that people understand that young people have blocks of things that that are plastic, rayon and made of different materials than back when I was really young,” Pat Collins, Riley County Fire Chief, said. “What we’re seeing right now is the is the fires of today burn three times faster than the time back when I was that age.”

Different types of fires also contribute to how the situation is handled. 

“It’s a lot more important for people when they have a fire, whether it’s car fire, house fire anything like that, to try to get out of there as quickly as they can,” Collins said. “[They should] protect themselves and then don’t breath that smoke.” 

Collins advice in any situation that involves a fire is to get out as fast as possible when you see any smoke whether you see the fire or not, because there are a few key ingredients to a fire. 

“You have to have some kind of fuel and you have to have heat and you have to have oxygen,” Collins said. “If you have one of those or all three of those things, a lot of times you have a fire.”

Collins uses this theory to put out fires. They first try to eliminate the heat, fuel or oxygen to extinguish them.

Having a predetermined plan of escape and having an idea of where to go instead of just staying outside the house can benefit you in the long run.

“Plan before they have fire and plan where they’re going to go… so they can get out so they can get their animals out, so they get the family out, and they know where to meet,” Collins said. “There’s some big decisions to make even before the fire.” 

According to Collins, the fire isn’t the only thing to worry about. People need to be prepared to encounter all aspects of danger.

“More people are killed by the smoke than the fire ever gets to,” Collins said. “A lot of times people will go out and and they’ll try to come back in for a pet or for some piece of property that is replaceable.”

Collins says the best way to avoid smoke inhalation is to stay as far away from the fire as possible. 

“Once you get out of a house, stay out, shut the door behind you, keep the fire contained,” Collins said. “If you can shut that oxygen off the fire may die some too.”