An Olympic feat

I read where an 82-year-old lady self-rescued from her burning home by bailing out of a window recently. People asked, was it a single-story or two-story home? The journey out of a window is difficult, no matter which floor it is on. Exiting via a second-floor window or higher requires that you have a rescue ladder, or that you hang and drop. Some might say that it could not be that big of a deal to exit out of a first-floor window; I say, give it a try. I once had a schoolteacher share her experience of exiting out of a first floor window. She stated that it was very difficult and yielded a few bruises, but a good experience to show her that she could do it if she ever had to, in an emergency.

So, what does it take to bail out of a window? Once the determination is made that you cannot escape via a door, then you must get to a window. You must close the door in the room that you are in and turn the lights on. Once you open the window, the fire is coming to that opening. If you are unwilling to leave via a window, you must let someone know that you are there. Throw something or wave something, whatever it takes. If you can wait until firefighters arrive, then do so. If you have to get out, then get out. You will need to get the opening as clear as possible. Get the curtains, window and screen out of your way. If you can prevent breaking the glass, it will be safer to escape. Incidentally, a person who dives out of a window does so because the heat, fire and smoke dictated it. If you have a rescue ladder, deploy it out the window. Climb onto the windowsill, and step onto the ladder. If you do not have a rescue ladder, then you should hang and drop from the windowsill.

The decision to bail out of a window is a huge decision. The costs of this decision may be cuts, bruises, broken bones, head trauma or possibly even death. The decision is made when remaining in the building is no longer a possibility. This is, in many cases, a split- second decision, though it does not have to be, in the sense of having never done it before. As I have told you before, a practiced home escape plan should consist of evacuating from a window. A rescue ladder should be something that you are very familiar with, before a fire occurs. A rescue ladder that has never been taken out of the box will never be taken out when a fire occurs. I have shared that you should deploy a rescue ladder out of a first-floor window, and practice exiting from the first floor. You should then deploy it out of a second floor window. To get used to how the ladder will feel, climb from the ground up. Be sure that everyone in your family knows how to deploy the ladder.

I will close with something that I preach constantly. Proper numbers of properly operating and placed smoke alarms are the best means of early warning. You must do everything possible to give your family every chance possible to escape a fire in your home. No one simply chooses to leave via a window. Rapidly deteriorating conditions makes people get out, sometimes without thinking. People in high-rise fires have jumped to a certain death from upper floors because the fire, heat and smoke forced them.

Be prepared…  


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