Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Surviving Disaster: Surviving a Building Fire

I like the show Surviving Disaster. Today's episode is about surviving a fire. Here's what I learned:
  • Each year over 15,000 7+ story buildings catch fire causing death and injury.
  • Treat every fire alarm like it's the real deal.
  • Listen to designated building fire marshals who provide guidance during an evacuation.
  • Use a cell phone to call 911, don't assume someone else has already called.
  • Get your running shoes on if you have them (especially women who usually wear heels).
  • Use an evacuation stairwell not glass and carpet stairs or elevators; these are reinforced and have a pressurized fan system.
  • Close fire doors as you go through them.
  • Don't create panic. Calmly exit via the evacuation stairs but don't run.
  • Head down the stairs but if you hear an explosion below you or see fire, head up the stairs.
  • Move as a unit through the crowd.
  • Touch doors to see if they are hot, if so, keep climbing, If not, go in.
  • If one stairwell is unusable, find the second evacuation stairwell. Look for the evacuation plan near the stairwell or elevator. Use your cell phone to take a picture of the floor plan to help you navigate through the building.
  • Smoke kills. Get away from smoke as quickly as possible.
  • Gather supplies: water, supplies to signal rescuers, stuff to help mark route (sharpie pens, post it notes), flashlights, and put the supplies in bags.
  • Take off metal stuff (belt buckles, jewelry) that can burn you if they get hot.
  • Use ties to cover your mouth and nose, cover up with clothing as much as possible.
  • Organize your evacuation group--point man (look for problems), navigator (lead the group), communicator (text or call someone on the outside to tell them where you are), rear security (stick a post it direction of travel)
  • Touch doors with the back of your hand to see if it is safe to go through (the back of the hand is more sensitive and you don't want to burn your palm--you will need your hands to carry stuff. Slowly open door to see if it is safe. Close the door behind you.
  • If sprinkler heads are not working, try to activate them.
  • Stop at the bathroom. Soak your clothes and hair with water. Get ties and cloth wet to cover nose and mouth. Fill up water bottles.
  • Break through a wall to escape smoke and flame if necessary. Break through the wall with a chair or other heavy item (make sure you do this between the studs). Continue breaking through walls per your floor map that you took the picture of on your cell phone to get to your desired location.
  • ~~This is where my cable cut out for about five minutes...right as they were breaking through the walls until the guy got burned in the flash over~~ I'll need to watch this part on Spike TV (www.spike.com) online which will air the full episode.
  • If someone is burned check their airway, cut the fabric away from the wound, pour water on the wound to cool it off, put gauze between fingers and toes so they don't fuse together, then cover the wound with gauze.
  • Leave the person behind while the group goes to escape the fire and seek help. Text the person's position to outside help.
  • Use fire extinguishers to clear the way as you move through the fire along your route.
  • If you can't exit through the stairwell, get to a window. Smash through the window in order to get to a lower level where you can be rescued.
  • Make a rope with Ethernet cable (blue, red, and grey not black which is electrical cable) usually found under the floor). Twist six strands together which will hold 600 pounds. Knot the ends.
  • Anchor the Ethernet cable rope to a desk. Anchor the desk in a doorway. Improvise a harness "Swiss seat" with twisted printer cables.
  • Signal rescuers from your window. Tie a flashlight to a rope and spin the rope to make a large signal.
  • Use the blotter from the desk as a chafe guard so the rope won't get frayed going over the window then lower the first person out the window. Other team members can do a one leg wrap of the rope to descend. There is a third "German" technique to rappel without a harness.
  • To jump into a rescue airbag, jump into a sitting position and land this way in the bag.
  • Tell someone you are out of the building such as the on scene commander so they won't go in looking for you.

That's it. Good show. Even though it doesn't cover every conceivable situation, it is excellent general information.

1 comment:

  1. This is excellent information, and I learned a couple of good things I never considered. For example, many people wouldn't consider breaking through walls.