HOW TO BEHAVE IN CASE OF FIRE.
The first great requisite of safety is that the person whose clothing has taken fire should not lose his presence of mind. Throwing one’s self upon the floor and wrapping a rug or blanket or overcoat about one, would occupy two or three seconds, and the danger would be over. The reason for lying down is, that then the flames burn quite slowly towards a vital part, but almost instantly while standing upright.
If persons awake in the night and find the room filled with smoke, they should get out of bed and creep with the face as near the floor as possible to a door or window. A room may be so full of smoke as to suffocate any one standing up, and be perfectly safe to breathe in a few inches from the floor. Mr. Braidwood relates the following incident upon this subject: —
” A fire had broken out in the third floor of a house, and when I reached the top of the stairs the smoke was rolling in thick heavy masses, which prevented me from seeing six inches before me. I immediately got down upon the floor, above which for the space of about eight inches the air seemed to be remarkably clear and bright. I could distinctly see the feet of the tables and other furniture of the room ; the flames in this space burning as vivid and distinct as the flame of a candle, while all above the smoke was so thick that the eye could not penetrate it. The fire had already burnt out of five windows in the apartment, yet when lying flat on the floor, no inconvenience was felt except from the heat.”
Never re-enter a house on fire from which you have escaped for anything of trifling value. Nothing but the life of some of the family should tempt you to do it; and not then until you have coolly measured the danger. Many lives are lost in the attempt to save others. If you do attempt to save a life, reccollect the following rule of the London Fire Brigade. “ He (the Superintendent) never allows any plan unaccompanied by another to enter a building on fire.”
THE DANGER FROM LAMPS.
There should be special laws prohibiting the sale of oils made of benzine and similar dangerous substances, which mixed with kerosene is the cause of the loss of so much life and property in the United States. A lady who is careful of and anxious for the safety of her family, said to me, ” I asked for Downer’s oil, and was told they did not sell it. They, however, had a safe oil which would not explode. They poured some of it*into a plate, and lighting a match, they put it upon the kerosene, which put out the fire on it.” And so she supposed she could use it with perfect safety. This experiment is performed all over the country as follows: A fellow of no learning or character sets himself up in the oil business. His stock in trade is a barrel of benzine and a gallon of kerosene oil. His oil is a famous new chemical discovery. It will burn more quickly, give more light, and is more safe than any other, as it is made on philosophical principles! And you cannot explode it if you try to do so all day. Then the oil is poured on the tin pan or plate, the match applied to the fluid, and of course the fire is extinguished. Now for the mystery. Benzine does not explode, but the vapor which rises from it does. When the benzine is poured upon the plate the vapor passes off into the air safely. When it is’gone the match is applied with the aforesaid result. But when the dangerous oil is in a lamp, the vapor in the lamp cannot find its way to the air, but fills the lamp above the oil. Now we have the flame of the lamp over the vapor. If we blow the flame down to the vapor, or so shake the lamp as to force a tiny stream of the vapor up to the flame, or the vapor increases until it fills the lamp and is forced up by the side of the wick to the flame, the vapor takes fire and bums its way back into the lamp, when the whole of the vapor explodes, setting fire to the oil. Then the vapor sets fire to and kills the person holding it, and the oil sets fire to the house, which is often also destroyed. These fires follow the introduction of such ” Patent Oils ” all over the country where they are sold. The maker of the oil grows rich in a neighborhood, then migrates to another State to follow the same devilish vocation. I know of no punishment worthy of the offense, unless we imitate that of the ancient Romans, and sew him in a sack saturated with his oil and set it on fire. Never blow down the chimney of a kerosene lamp to extinguish it. Never use great quart lamps. They are very dangerous. If you have them throw them against a stone wall. Never buy the cheapest oil. “ Get the best.
Lamps when lighted in the morning without being filled, and taken quickly about the house, are very liable to explode. A neighbor left his house before light in the morning some time ago to do the morning work of the barn. Not long after he heard an explosion, and the bright light in his house told him where was the danger. His wife had risen, and lighting the kerosene lamp, was walking across the room, when it exploded, throwing the burning naphtha over her, and setting her clothing on fire. She was quite near some water which she at once used, and with the help of her husband the fire on her person and on the house was soon out. She was, however, badly burned but her life was saved.
But many people will purchase poor oils, if a few cents cheaper than the best, and accidents will happen in the best of families.—Joseph Bird.