In November 1980, flames engulfed the 26-story, 2,000-room MGM Grand Hotel in Paradise, Nevada — killing 85 people.
In the third-worst hotel fire in history, only four people died from burns, the rest succumbed to smoke, carbon monoxide, or a combination of both.
Nevada learned some grim lessons from the restaurant fire run amok — which led to stiffer safety regulations. The owners of the hotel, which has since been sold and renamed Bally’s Las Vegas, had to install fire alarms and a fire sprinkler system.
But this tragedy has a lesson for you, too.
If you want to survive a fire, the first priority is: Protect your eyes, nose, throat and especially your lungs!
And that applies to wherever smoke and flames threaten you, whether you’re in a hotel, condo, office, school, apartment, home, subway, airplane or a forest.
In all of these instances, people are much more likely to die from smoke inhalation than from the flames. It’s simple. If you can’t see, you can’t find your way out. And if you black out, you can’t do anything to save yourself.
Fire is a vastly underrated threat. The flames will often surprise you because they can be ignited in so many ways. They can be sparked by accidents, negligence, arson or natural causes.
So I recommend that you keep a “smoke hood” near at hand whenever possible. These hoods come in different sizes, weights, and designs, and they can have many different features.
|The maker of this smoke hood says it can give you 20 extra minutes to find your way out of an inferno.|
But they’re all designed to protect you from toxic gases that fires can throw off, like ammonia, chlorine, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide. They can also protect you from inhaling soot in smoke as well as specks of ash and chemicals that become atomized into the hot fumes.
Smoke hoods protect your lungs, head, face and eyes. This allows you to stay conscious, stay mobile, stay alert, and stay focused on thinking your way out of the inferno. And the hoods store a small bit of air that may mean the difference between life and death. So overall, your chances of survival go up astronomically.
Smoke hoods are generally easy to put on and don’t require intense training or lots of practice. But you should find one that is suitable to your needs and lifestyle. By performing a careful Internet search for these life-saving hoods, you can find one that does fit your requirements and your pocketbook!
Bigger and bulkier hoods can be a good choice for your home, especially if you live in a high-rise condo or apartment. You need one for each family member, and each hood should be stored within easy reach of the person who’s supposed to use it.
But these larger hoods probably won’t be practical for you to use at your office or at a hotel. So you’ll probably want to choose one that is smaller and easier to transport. If you’re on vacation or on a business trip, then you should keep the hood on your nightstand.
And you might prefer an even smaller hood so you can carry it in a handbag or briefcase while you commute by car, taxi, bus, train or subway. In fact, your hood may be more valuable in these situations than in any other because you would be stuck in such close quarters.
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Hotel fires in the United States and abroad have claimed significant casualties. Even in modern times with modern firefighting equipment and technology, you must be prepared for the threat of fire.
Terrorists can use fire as a weapon to target not only planes but also trains, buses and other forms of mass transportation. They can also torch buildings. In September 2012, a mob of demonstrators set fire to the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia.
Police reports show that common criminals have used fire to flush out innocent victims or to burn them out so the thugs could eliminate witnesses or for revenge.
Here’s another critical piece of equipment you should have if you’re caught in a fire — a flashlight. But I’m not talking about any old flashlight.
|Tactical flashlights have high-powered beams to penetrate billowing smoke.|
You need a good, solid LED electric torch. It should be sturdy enough to withstand the elements, small enough to lug around wherever you go, and bright enough to cut through the smoke of a dark hallway or stairwell in the middle of the night.
With LED flashlights, the brightness is measured in “lumens.” And always keep in mind, the more lumens, the faster your batteries will drain. And speaking of lumens, let me give you a reference so you have an idea of what it means in brightness.
A Maglite LED flashlight, which many people are familiar with, holds three D-cell batteries and emits 168 lumens. Now a 50-lumen beam is bright enough for most common uses of a flashlight. But to survive a fire, I would recommend getting a small tactical flashlight that emits 120 to 300 lumens. These typically range in price from $20 to $200.
The higher-priced lights normally have more power (lumens), and they usually have some type of advanced technology that justifies their hefty price tags. Just keep in mind you are buying the flashlight to help save your life, so don’t cut corners!
And remember, it’s easy to lose your flashlight during a crisis. You can drop it while trying to do too many things at once. And anybody can become fumble-fingered under life-and-death stress.
That’s why you want to buy a tactical flashlight that has a hole for a lanyard. Just thread a strong cord through the hole and wrap or tie the cord around your wrist. Now you can focus on staying alive instead of worrying about losing your flashlight.
Until next time, stay alert, check your six, put your back against the wall and stay safe!