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When it Comes to Fire, Time is NOT on Our Side!

Back in the 1970’s the typical room in the typical American home took close to 35 minutes to be consumed in flames.

I assumed that with all the advances in materials and technology, we’d have even more time to recognize and evacuate from a fire.


It now takes UNDER 5 minutes for that same room to become a roaring beast!

If you are relying on breathing for survival, you have even less time, as toxic fumes fill the space in under 3 minutes.

What the WHAT????

That can’t be right, you say (as I did)- here’s a video demonstration:


After speaking with firefighters and Googling the heck out of it, it’s still not entirely clear.

But so much of our homes are filled with petro-chemical based materials such as rugs, upholstered furniture, wood preservatives, etc. that they create the toxic fumes as well as feed the flames.

And UL’s “New Science Fire Safety Journal” Issue #1 reports that our building materials and methodologies are contributing to this major change in home fires, too.

In a nutshell, you have 2 minutes and 50 seconds to get you and your family out of your home in a fire.

That is, if your smoke detector goes off as soon as the fire starts.

And guess what?….

Ion-based smoke alarms (our typical alarms) respond, on average, 15 to 20 minutes more slowly in a smoldering fire (our typical fire) than photoelectric alarms.

This led Chief Judge David E. Schoenthaler of Iowa to say “A smoke detector that sounds approximately nineteen minutes after smoke reached its sensing chamber is like an airbag that does not deploy until nineteen minutes after a car accident.”

States are starting to take notice and require dual ion and photo-based alarms.

But don’t wait for your legislators - the investment of an afternoon and some money can make all the difference in your family’s chances of escaping a fire!

fire safety guide


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