What Is Stop, Drop and Roll?

It is one thing to sit in a classroom listening to a safety presentation or to read about proper procedures in the event of a fire and a totally different experience when actually faced with it. The difference can be expressed in one word; panic. This is what led to the “Stop, Drop and Roll” program and why it has proven effective.

For the vast majority of people, there is both fascination and fear when it comes to fire. However, fascination vanishes in a heartbeat when confronted with an uncontrolled fire. Few injuries are more painful than a burn, and there are few things more terrifying than part or all of your body catching on fire! There is a reason why it seems perfectly realistic in movies that someone would leap from the upper levels of a tall building, with zero chance of survival, rather than face the prospect of being engulfed with flames.

A severe burn, the kind that can result when someone’s clothing catches on fire, can not only be extremely painful, but it is one of the leading causes of unintentional death in the U.S. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), more than 300 children end up in the emergency room every day because of burn-related injuries. Of those 300 per day, two die from being burned. This is why it is crucial that everyone, especially children, know what to do if clothing catches on fire.  

Stop, Drop and Roll

To minimize injury, when clothing catches fire, the response should be immediate:

Stop – try not to panic and above all, do not run. Running only feeds the fire with more oxygen, which is the last thing you want to do.

Drop – as quickly as possible, drop to the ground in a prone position.

Roll – immediately start rolling over and over, backwards and forwards, in order to shut off the supply of oxygen and smother the flames. Do not stop until the fire is completely out.  

The “Stop, Drop and Roll” program has proven very effective. Through the years, there have been suggestions to make it better. One was to add “Cover”, which meant to cover the face with the hands before dropping and rolling. This would help protect the face from burns and potential scarring, as well as keep the super-heated air from burning the lungs. The argument against this is that it makes the rolling part less effective. The other main suggestion was to add “Cool” to the end, because of the importance of cooling the burn area as soon as possible. The discussion about enhancing “Stop, Drop and Roll” is ongoing. The main concern is that its effectiveness comes from its simplicity, and no one wants to jeopardize that, especially when they want people to visit their website.

If you would like to learn more about Stop Drop and Roll, please watch the video below: