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What Is Stop, Drop and Roll?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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Stop, drop and roll is a fire safety technique most often taught to children at an early age, and it is a method used to extinguish flames on the body or clothing. Aside from putting the flames out, the stop, drop and roll technique can help a person avoid panicking in this frightening situation by focusing on the technique rather than the sometimes painful reality of the situation. This method is taught in combination with other fire safety techniques to school aged children learning about the dangers of fire.

The method's three main components work to stifle flames quickly. Children are instructed to stop to avoid fanning the flames, or essentially feeding oxygen to the flames and thereby making them larger or hotter. Stopping movement may also make it easier for bystanders to extinguish the flames; if the person is moving, the bystanders may not be able to thoroughly and quickly extinguish the fire. Moving around can also lead to the fire spreading to other people or objects, which can make the situation far worse by putting others at risk.

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The drop portion of the stop, drop and roll technique dictates that the person drop to the ground and cover his or her face to prevent injury and further burns. This action helps lead to the next step, the roll portion. Rolling around on the ground helps to deprive the flame of oxygen even further. A blanket can be wrapped around the person at this time to further stifle the flames, but it is important to remember that synthetic fibers can melt onto the skin, thereby causing more injury. The overall goal of this technique is to rob the flames of oxygen, which they need to grow and thrive, as well as potential fuel sources.

The stop, drop and roll technique is most effectively used in conjunction with other firefighting techniques. Dousing the person with water will help extinguish the flames quickly, as will the use of a fire extinguisher. Regardless of the severity of the burns and the duration of the event, a person who has needed the stop, drop and roll technique should consult a doctor as soon as possible for examination. Burns are highly susceptible to infection, which can cause health problems ranging from discomfort to death. A doctor can prescribe medications and dress the wounds to prevent further injury.

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