No matter how cautious you are, there is always a chance of electric or stovetop fires breaking out. Installing an effective fire alarm system will help you detect fires immediately and evacuate to safety. But what if they malfunction and you get stuck amidst the flames? Or perhaps the fire is merely in its incipient phase and small enough to be controlled, yet you do not have a fire blanket.
In both such instances, you will need fire safety protocols. Here are all the fire blanket alternatives you should know in case of an emergency.
Fire Blanket vs. Fire Extinguisher
Your fire blanket is the best possible tool against incipient fires. It is easy to use and works great at suppressing smaller fires at home, work, or even industrial sites. Fire blankets come in quick-release packages that are recommended to be stored or hung in a vertical position. This makes them exceptionally easy to reach out and wrap around yourself or somebody on fire.
One of the most important properties of a fire blanket is its ease-of-use. These blankets come in a container with a lever, which you pull on to release the blanket. This versatility allows them to be used in various fire situations (stovetop, electrical, etc.).
Moreover, these blankets are lightweight and do not require special training before you can use them. People who have trouble lifting weights may prefer using a fire blanket over a fire extinguisher. You can use fire blankets to protect people with mobility issues from flames. They will probably not be able to evacuate the building quickly. A better practice would be to wrap the fire blanket around them and slowly move towards the exit.
On the other hand, we trust in the effectiveness of fire extinguishers. Most of us have seen extinguishers around malls, offices, and even at school. Fire extinguishers are among the best-known fire safety devices.
They come in a large variety of options based on different kinds of fires. You can opt for an ABC fire extinguisher which works perfectly for common fires. You can also try the more advanced CO2 extinguishers as they do not leave a mess behind and work on flammable liquids, electric equipment, and even gases. No matter what kind of fire you’re facing, an extinguisher is an ideal fire blanket alternative.
Now that we understand how fire blankets and fire extinguishers are used, let’s make a side-by-side comparison. This will help us determine whether extinguishers are practical fire blanket alternatives.
Pros of Fire Extinguishers vs. Fire Blankets
- Fire extinguishers are proven by research to be more effective in stopping fires (up to 95%).
- A wide range of sizes and types are available for different kinds of fire and structures.
- Allows you to put out a fire from a safe distance away. When using a fire blanket, you will need to get close to the fire to drape the blanket over it.
- They can tackle a fire that is starting to spread, but a fire blanket cannot.
Cons of Fire Extinguishers vs. Fire Blankets
- Fire extinguishers require some training before they can be used. You will need to learn the P.A.S.S. technique.
- Larger capacity fire extinguishers are quite heavy to carry and can cause severe injuries in an accident.
- The discharge left behind after using a fire extinguisher requires exhaustive clean-up.
- You will need to replace or recharge your fire extinguisher after each use. This means you will need to get new ones, even for fire drills and training. Also, you will need to install a new fire extinguisher even if your previous one wasn’t completely used up.
One of the best strategies to use in a house or office fire is to use both. Wrap a fire blanket around yourself first, and then move to the location where the fire extinguisher is located. You can use the extinguisher to put out the fire, but only after you have ensured safety for yourself.
Fire Blanket vs. Welding Blanket
A welding blanket is the protective covering used by welders to keep their bodies and surrounding structures safe. Since welding can create spatters and result in droplets of molten metal flying out, a welding blanket can eliminate the risk of burns and fires.
Now, the real question is, do welding blankets serve as effective fire blanket alternatives?
Yes, they can!
Most welding blankets have excellent flame retardant properties. They are also made of fiberglass, much like most fire blankets, to offer heat resistance. The high melting temperature of a welding blanket’s fiberglass structure makes it perfect to be used as a fire blanket alternative.
Fire Blanket vs. Coat
Often, a fire blanket is inaccessible. The fire may have blocked the path to your fire blanket, or maybe you just haven’t bought one yet.
An alternative, like a woolen coat, can also help protect you from the fire and limit damage to your body.
Wool coats serve best as a fire blanket alternative. They don’t catch fire easily, and they burn very slowly. This makes them ideal for covering your skin if you’re trying to escape a fire.
You can even use a wool coat to cover a small fire and suppress its oxygen supply. This will stop it from spreading and hopefully put it out.
Fire Blanket vs. Towels
Any time there is a kitchen fire, we are most likely to start swatting at it with a dishtowel in hopes of putting it out. That rarely works.
Swatting at a fire using towels or any other cloth will only fan the flames and provide them more oxygen. This will likely increase the speed of fire spread and increase the danger.
Instead, try to use a wet cotton towel as a fire blanket alternative. Wrap it around yourself or drape it over the fire to suffocate it. Just make sure that the fire is completely covered.
Fire Blanket vs. Mylar Survival Blanket
A mylar survival blanket (also called a space blanket, emergency blanket, or first aid blanket) has heat-reflecting properties. This makes people think they are safe to be used against a fire; however that is entirely false.
Mylar survival blankets might withstand heat up to 260°C, but they are made of an extremely flammable fiber. Just one spark can immediately catch the blanket on fire. Hence, it is not an effective fire blanket alternative and should be avoided at all costs.
Fire blankets and fire extinguishers are among the most effective fire safety equipment that every building and property should have. However, if you can’t get to your blankets or extinguishers, it will serve you well to remember some fire blanket alternatives. Quick thinking and action will allow you to stop the fire in its initial phase and can help you save lives.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.