If a fire started in your home, how much time would you have to safely escape: Five minutes? Ten minutes? The answer may depend on the age of your home, and what’s inside of it.
They may look beautiful, but consumer safety guru John Drengenberg knows some modern homes also have something you may not know about. He explains, “Big ceilings, high ceilings all of which are great and they are wonderful, but the fact is in a fire situation it allows the fire to spread more quickly.”
Drengenberg is the Consumer Safety Director at Underwriters Laboratories (U.L.) in Northbrook, Illinois. He says it’s not just the home, it’s also what’s inside the home. Researchers at U.L. have done extensive research on synthetic materials in new homes–like the stuffing in couch pillows, mattresses, and drapes.
“The most important thing that’s changed is that we use a lot more synthetic materials in our homes. Synthetic materials burn hotter and faster,” Drengenberg warns.
Experts did a demonstration between a legacy home with natural materials inside, and a modern home with synthetic furniture. Three minutes into the controlled burn flames and smoke filled the modern home. Ten minutes later the legacy home started to fill up with smoke and fire. It shows you have substantially less time to get out of a modern home.
“On average in the old days it took about 17 minutes before you had to get out of your house when that smoke alarm sounded,”Drengenberg points out.
Today on average that 17 minutes is down to three or four minutes before you are in danger of dying in your home.
TODAY’S TMJ4 visited U.L. to get a closer look at its research. They set fires to test sprinklers and burn wires to see how fast they go up in flames. Products and material tested can end up in your home if they pass the test.
A U.L. label on a product means the manufacturer has submitted its product to U.L., an independent third party organization, and they tested it to very rigorous safety standards–including smoke alarms
A final word of advice–everybody should know at least two exits out of every room.