What to Do in Case of Fire. To avoid fire keep your attic and closets clean, as they are seldom properly ventilated, especially in summer. Rags which may be greasy, broken toys, or old clothes, the pockets of which may contain matches, are ripe for spontaneous combustion, which will, often take place at a temperature of one hundred and ten degrees Fahrenheit. Never allow children to play with matches or throw burnt matches on the floor. If a fire starts, keep your self control and smother the fire with a rug or blanket or throw water on the material burning, not on the flame. If you find you cannot put it out yourself give an alarm, but in leaving the room to do so, be sure to close the door and windows, for if the room is closed the fire will consume all the oxygen in the room and may die out or burn so slowly that it will give time for the firemen to arrive before it spreads to other rooms. If awakened by smell of fire at night, don't stop to dress, keep your self control, wrap a blanket from the bed around you and get out at once, the easiest way you can, closing all doors behind you. Do not go to the floor above the one where the fire is for heat and smoke ascend.
To escape through passages filled with suffocating smoke, tie a wet handkerchief over the mouth and nose, then crawl on the hands and knees, for the smoke rises with the hot air, and will be less dense close to the floor. If the whole of the lower part of the house is burning, and escape by means of the stairs is cut off, preparations must be made for leaving by the window. Tie all sheets and blankets together by means of "reef knots" (see illustration) which will not slip, no matter how much strain is put upon them. Finally make one end of your improvised fire escape fast to the bedpost, drop the other end from the window, and after making sure that it reaches to, or almost to the ground, go down it boldly hand over hand.
There is always considerable risk of a dangerous fall resulting from this means of exit; therefore it should be undertaken only when all other means of escape have failed. In case of an overturned oil lamp, there is a sudden and alarming blaze; but if the action is taken at once, the damage may be confined to the carpet or cloth on which the lamp actually lies. To throw water on the conflagration is useless. The burning oil will only be forced over a larger area. The aim should be to absorb the oil and smother the flame, and this should be done by means of some nonflammable powder, such as flour, sand or earth from the garden. A few words may be added respecting the treatment of burns and scalds before the doctor comes. Bear in mind the air is to be excluded from the affected part as quickly as possible. This may be done by dredging the part thickly with flour if the skin is not broken and not disturbing it for some time. Any vegetable oil such as salad, sweet or linseed may be used with advantage; soak a rag with it and use to cover the wound. A very good application is made by mixing equal parts of linseed oil and lime water, forming " carron oil."
All clothing covering a burn must be removed with the utmost care. Never try to withdraw the injured limb, but cut the clothing away (see illustration) so that the injured surface may not be more damaged. Never hold a burn in front of the fire, according to the popular practice; this only increases the injury. Have your oil or other application ready for immediate use as soon as the clothing has been removed.
To avoid drawing burnt or scalded limb from clothing cut apparel away with sharp scissors.
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copyright 2005, J. Crow Company, New Ipswich NH 03071