So many accidents are daily occurring from broken kerosene lamps, and clothes taking fire from gas lights and open fire-places, that it is very important to know what to do under such circumstances. Three persons out of four would rush right up to the burning individual, and begin to paw with their hands without any aim. It is useless to tell the victim to do this or that, or call for water. In fact it is generally best not to say a word, but seize a blanket from a bed, or s, cloak, or any woolen fabric - if none is at hand, take any heavy material - hold the corners as far apart as you can, stretch them higher than your head, and running boldly to the person, make a motion of clasping in the arms, just about the shoulders. This instantly smothers the fire and saves the face. The next instant throw the unfortunate person on the floor. This is an additional safety to the face and breath, and any remnant of flame can be put out more leisurely. When the person whose clothes take fire is alone, the danger is not unfrequently increased by the sufferer running about in a state of alarm; whereas it would be better for him to roll on the floor until the fire is extinguished, or better still, to cover himself with a loose carpet, rug, or blanket, to exclude the air, till a sufficient supply of water is obtained to throw over him. In either case, after the fire has been put out, the individual should be placed on a bed, and the clothes removed piecemeal by cutting them off; much caution is required in taking away the body linen without tearing off the skin, and where the linen sticks, so much only should be cut off as can be detached readily.
Some years ago Queen Victoria appointed a commission to investigate this subject. It was found that there were but four salts which were applicable to light fabrics: 1, Phosphate of ammonia; 2, a mixture of phosphate of ammonia and chloride of ammonia; 3, sulphate of ammonia; 4, tungstate of soda. Of these, the best was tungstate of soda, a salt which is not by any means expensive. Sulphate of ammonia is objectionable, from the fact that it acts on the irons and moulds the fabric. The tungstate of soda is neither injurious to the texture or color, or in any degree difficult of application in the washing process. The iron passes over the material quite as smoothly as if no solution had been employed. The solution increases the stiffness of the fabric, and its protecting power against fire is perfect. This salt offers only one difficulty, viz: the formation of a bitungstate, of little solubility, which crystallizes from the solution; but it was found that a very small percentage of phosphate of soda rendered the tungstate quite stable. The best method of applying these salts is to take one ounce of tungstate of soda and a quarter of an ounce of phosphate of soda, and dissolve them in a quart of water. The goods are moistened with this solution before being starched, and they may be afterwards ironed and finished without the least difficulty.
Articles prepared in this way are perfectly uninflammable. They may be charred by exposure to fire, but they do not burn readily unless there is some extraneous source of heat, and they can not be made to burst into flame. By the aid of this discovery, a lady dressed in the lightest muslin might walk over a row of footlights, and the only result would be that the lower part of her dress would be injured. Unless her person actually came in contact with the gas flames, she herself would suffer no injury. In country places, where tungstate of soda cannot be procured, a mixture of three parts borax, and two and a half parts sulphate of magnesia, in twenty parts of water, may be used with good effect.