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Putting Out Fires Yourself: A Recipe for Third-Degree Burns

In my previous post two days ago, I wrote about the need to be aware of fire hazards not just inside your home, but surrounding your home as well. The reason: Careless neighbors can cause a fire that spreads to where you live too. Such a situation nearly happened to me not long ago, and my neighbor almost got burned badly because she tried to put the fire she started rather than calling firefighters to let them do it.

Sure enough, a story appeared in a London newspaper the next day, January 17, about a British man there who did the same thing as my neighbor. Unfortunately, that man now has third-degree burns and smoke-inhalation injuries to his lungs that threaten his life. Here is part of that article:

“A man barely escaped with his life after an early-morning fire Monday in an apartment in London’s east end. The man was cooking and likely fell asleep, only to be woken up by his smoke detector. ‘He tried to put the fire out himself but sustained burns to his face, his forearms, and hands, plus he suffered some smoke inhalation,’ district chief Jeff Adams reported.”

“Although the man was conscious and talking when firefighters arrived, paramedics consider his injuries life-threatening because of the facial burns and smoke he inhaled. Adams said, ‘I think 50 percent of people would try to put out the fire, but you have to be very careful. We like to tell people to close the door and let the professionals handle it.'”

“Most of the damage was to the kitchen — the stove, the cupboards above the stove and the wall, plus there was smoke damage throughout.”

Even so, another tenant of the eighth floor of the apartment complex says that he saw smoke coming from under the door, and that he was the one who called authorities for help. By the time firefighters arrived, the fire was mostly out–but smoke had filled the entire hallway. This means that sleeping neighbors were at risk for dangerous smoke inhalation too, and might not have woken up in time to get out.

The lesson here: The greatest home-fire threat to you might actually be outside your home. So monitor your home’s surroundings occasionally for things that could start or accelerate a fire.

And the day before this London fire took place, a house caught fire in Springfield, MO due to something that most of us would never even think about: An extension cord connected to a space heater shorted out, igniting clothes that were laying on the cord. Now, having clothing laying around is not a rare situation in many homes, including mine. But if you just take a moment and think about where you’re setting those clothes or any other flammable item, you can avoid a dangerous situation.

In this case, two young girls were rescued from the home, one of them thanks a thermal-image camera that lets firefighters see through the smoke. Still, the girls suffered burns and smoke inhalation, as did one of the firefighters.

See the full article here.

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