What should be done to avoid a tragedy like that of this Monday February 6 in Aisne where 8 members of the same family died because of a tumble dryer on fire?
According to the Ministry of the Interior, each year in France, 300,000 cases of domestic fires are recorded, or one every two minutes.
If 460 people died and nearly 10,000 injured in 2021 according to the National Institute for Prevention and Health Education, there are solutions to reduce the consequences of these fires and save lives.
We take stock with Commander Aurélien Sabourdy, member of the prevention commission of the National Federation of Firefighters of France.
1. "Give yourself the means to be notified quickly"
Prevention is better than cure.
The saying is simple, and easy to apply to home fires.
Before any fire breaks out, you have to put yourself in the best possible conditions to react very quickly.
An example ?
Owning and installing autonomous smoke detectors has been mandatory since 2015. “The first thing to do well before imagining a fire is to give yourself the means to be warned quickly.
We recommend one detector per room where you sleep, one in each level of circulation, such as the corridors.
Then, you have to make sure, at each change of time in the year, that everything is working properly”, suggests Commander Sabourdy.
4 years ago, a deadly fire struck rue Erlanger in Paris.
In the field, firefighters see many victims who could be avoided, thanks to first aid gestures or smoke detectors.
– Firefighters of France (@PompiersFR) February 6, 2023
Second essential step to also avoid the outbreak of fire: live in a safe habitat with electrical appliances up to standard and in safe places.
Your electric scooter, whose lithium battery can catch fire, for example, must be tidy.
There are also small gestures not so trivial.
“You have to leave the keys in the doors, or within reach to be able to get out very quickly.
In the event of a fire, if the keys are not in the right place, it can be dramatic,” warns the firefighter.
2. Get to safety before calling for help
In a first scenario, the fire breaks out in the room where you are.
First of all, you can try very quickly to put out the fire yourself, without taking the risk of burning yourself or making the situation worse.
If you can't do this, you must leave the room and close the door before evacuating the people present in the home.
"If it's an apartment, it is imperative to close the door of the apartment which opens onto the stairwell", insists the member of the National Federation of Firefighters of France.
After that, you can contact the fire brigade on 112 (single emergency number) and tell them all these things.
In the second scenario, the fire breaks out in a neighboring room, apartment or floor.
“What you shouldn't do is go down a smoky hallway or staircase,” Commander Sabourdy immediately explains.
You must then lock yourself in the apartment or the room in which you are.
Once again, it is only after being completely safe that you can contact the emergency services, specifying the situation, while showing up at your window.
A little additional advice from the firefighter: “You have to caulk/plug the gaps in the doors to prevent the passage of smoke with everything available (sweaters, t-shirts, etc.).
3. The two mistakes not to make
The list of mistakes not to make is, of course, as long as your arm.
We decided to select the two biggest ones to avoid.
The first is giving in to panic and wanting to get out at all costs.
“We are conditioned to do this, but we have to stay locked up.
It's counter-intuitive but that's what you have to do, ”insists Aurélien Sabourdy.
In question, a potential poisoning with carbon monoxide: “You can become intoxicated in a few puffs.
Between 40 and 50 seconds later, you lose your balance and your lucidity.
In one to two minutes, you can die.
It goes extremely fast!
In 2005, in the city of L'Haÿ-les-Roses (Val-de-Marne), 18 people died, almost all of intoxication, after a fire lit in the mailboxes.
[Back to 📷]
Fire fryers in a restaurant in the Old Port yesterday afternoon quickly extinguished ⚓️🚒.
Reminder on the right gestures:
✅ cut the heat source,
✅ moisten a towel, mop or cloth,
✅ cover the container on fire at arm's length.
📞 112 or 18 pic.twitter.com/r4GMiATKGM
– Marins-Pompiers de Marseille (@MarinsPompiers) June 19, 2020
The second thing not to do: try to put out a fire when you can't afford it.
Above all, to avoid: throwing a glass of water, which risks making the situation worse, but rather prefer a simple wet cloth, if you do not have small fire extinguishers nearby.
If extinguishing the fire is impossible for you very quickly, you should not persevere and get to safety.
4. Wait and heal
In the worst case, you are trapped in the flames, and in your home.
You are now in a place preserved for the moment from the fire.
All that remains is to wait for the arrival of the fire brigade, which can take time.
“If you are in the middle of Paris, in less than ten minutes.
In remote provincial areas, it can take up to 20 minutes.
It is essential to be safe.
It is this period of time before the arrival of help that will condition your survival”, warns Commander Sabourdy.
During these long minutes, it is all the more important to pay attention to the two most fragile categories of the population: children, because carbon monoxide poisoning depends on the weight of the person, and the elderly, in particular with problems respiratory.
In the event of a burn, you can cool with water, but above all without removing the clothes hanging on the skin, so as not to cause skin tearing.