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Top 7 Myths About House Fires

From the romantic appeal of a candlelit dinner to the cozy warmth of a fireplace, we sure love the appeal of fires within our home. However, this appeal doesn’t change just how dangerous these can be when we aren’t being careful. With household fires increasing every year, it is important to know the myths from the facts in order to keep you and your family safe.

MYTH 1: Pets Can Sense Danger And Will Usually Escape

False! You may have seen or read stories about pets that saved all of their humans and other pets from a terrible house fire. While these are certainly heart-warming stories, this is often not the case. In fact, household pets tend to be extremely vulnerable in fires. Though some pets will know to immediately escape and even to rescue others along the way, others will hide out of fear or may be stuck in a room unable to leave. Even if you consider your dog or cat to be too brave to do so, you cannot know for sure that your pet will react that way. Smoke can easily damage the lungs of a cat or dog within minutes and the sparks can cause painful burns that may be undetectable under the fur.

MYTH 2: Fire Spreads Slowly

Though this would be great if it were true, it simply isn’t. A small flame can turn into a huge fire within 30 seconds and it may take as few as 3 to 5 minutes for an entire house to fill up with dense, dark smoke and become engulfed in flames. That is why having a smoke alarm to warn you of the approaching fire can give you the extra few seconds you need to get out of the house.

MYTH 3: Small Candles Don’t Pose Much Of A Threat

It can be rather romantic to have a dinner by candlelight even with a smaller candle. However, that does not make it any less dangerous. Candle fires have actually tripled in the last decade. Even a small candle can start a major fire within just a few minutes. This is why you should never leave a candle unattended even for a moment. Make sure to blow out the candle any time you have to leave the room. You can always relight it when you get back.

MYTH 4: The Flames Are The Greatest Threat

Unlike many of the fires you have probably seen on TV or in the films, real fires produce a large amount of thick and black smoke that obscures your vision as well as causes nausea and may lead to unconsciousness and death. Smoke is full of toxic by-products including carbon monoxide. These toxic gases are responsible for the majority of deaths and injuries in fires rather than the actual flames.

MYTH 5: Leaving The Kitchen Briefly While Food Is Cooking Is Fine

The majority of fires happen in the home and more specifically in the kitchen. Usually this occurs when someone leaves their cooking unattended. It only takes a couple of seconds for a pot or pan to spatter grease or overheat, creating a fire that can spread within seconds. If you are cooking something, make sure to stay in the room and to keep a constant eye on it. This is especially important when you are cooking with oil and grease.

MYTH 6: Most Children Know Not To Play With Matches

Believe it or not, children are naturally curious and often don’t fully grasp the danger. In fact, hundreds of children die or are seriously injured in fires every year in the United States. Children are also much more likely to be injured in a fire than adults as well. If you have or live with children, avoid leaving matches and lighters around and teach them why these are not for playing.

MYTH 7: Children Know To Run From A Fire And Escape

We would like to believe that this is common knowledge for children as well as adults. However, when children see smoke they often react by hiding instead of fleeing. Smoke can easily overcome a child very quickly. Parents need to teach children about basic fire safety and escape plans, and practice it with them repeatedly. You should also make sure to test the smoke alarm with your child present so you can recognize the sound and relate it with the need to escape.