What happens when smoke alarms fail?
Dr. Nick Welch, the creator of Smoke Shield, told me, “If a child opens their bedroom door and sees fire and smoke, instinctively they will shut the door. This is a great instinct as it creates another smoke (though not impermeable) and fire barrier which inherently improves their chance of survival.
What is Smoke Shield?
I first learned about Smoke Shield when I was contacted by Team Smoke Shield who explained the purpose of the new product and that it was going to be crowdsourced.* I read their website, watched the videos, and was impressed by both the innovation of the product and the need for something like this on the market. I agreed to share their information with my readers.
You see, the purpose of Smoke Shield is to provide safe shelter in a worst-case scenario — not being able to escape the smoke and flames of a house fire. The device is installed in a closet or very small room and activates once it detects smoke in the house. It immediately begins to filter the smoke-filled air, providing safe breathing air within the confines of that closet.
Of course, escaping the fire by exiting the house or other building is absolutely and without question the first step to take, but as I thought about Smoke Shield and this type of scenario, I realized that in many households, easy escape may not be possible.
- One of my close family members is not only elderly but also has mobility issues. In no realistic scenario could she climb through a window or run to get out of the house.
- Families with small children and/or infants will have challenges trying to account for each child, and any time delay could make a safe evacuation difficult as the fire and smoke spread.
- Homes with special needs loved ones of any kind will need extra time to escape, but, depending on the type and location of the fire, that extra time may not be there.
In these scenarios, having Smoke Shield installed in a strategically placed closet may be the back-up that provides not only peace of mind but also that last-chance survival opportunity.
Dr. Nick provides more in-depth information about Smoke Shield, house fire safety, answers loads of questions, and explains what crowdsourcing is. I encourage you to watch this for the invaluable tips he provides throughout our conversation.
Smoke Shield and the safe-room
Once you and your loved ones are in the safe room, Smoke Shield has been activated and is already filtering the air. Allow the device to do its job while you sit on the floor and breathe the safe air. Smoke Shield will provide that air for up to an hour. This gives firefighters an expanded window of time to find and rescue you.
Smoke Shield comes with a strobe light alert you’ll place on the outside of the closet to help firefighters find you more quickly. As the Smoke Shield project moves forward, a goal is to include the capability of communicating with firefighters when they arrive at your home.
Dr. Nick also mentions that adding a phone jack inside that closet will provide you with yet another layer of protection. You’ll be able to call the fire department, a neighbor, 911 and give information about your situation and even guide firefighters to your specific location.
Remember the normalcy bias I mentioned earlier and the panic and chaos that is part of every house fire? Dr. Nick says, “When you’re afraid, everybody’s stupid. You’re not thinking logically and deliberately. We designed this system so that even when you’re afraid, you can dramatically improve the likelihood of survival.”
Rose’s story ultimately had a happy ending.
“Now we talk with the kids about where to meet if something happens and safe ways to get out of the house. They are older now but the younger 2 still get really scared if I accidentally set off the smoke alarms.
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