What Does White Smoke Mean In A Fire?

Understanding what different colors of smoke mean in a fire can help you understand the severity of the fire.

When you see any type of fire, you should always call 911 as the fire will need to be controlled and put out, but what does it mean when you see white smoke in a fire, and is it very dangerous?

Smoke is one of the most common signs of a fire and it is often extremely visible from miles away.

Knowing the difference between the different colors of smoke allows emergency services to understand what is happening and how to tackle the fire, so smoke colors must be common knowledge. 

This article will explain what white smoke means in a fire and how severe the situation is if you notice white smoke.

Knowing this information could save lives, so people must become aware of the dangers. 

White Smoke

What Is Smoke?

When you see smoke during a fire, it is made up of gases, particulates, and aerosols.

The reason that smoke changes color during a fire is due to the fuels that are being burned, resulting in the smoke changing color based on what materials are involved.

This will indicate what the fire is doing and what the next steps might be. 

Different Smoke Colors In A Fire

During a fire, there are lots of different colors of smoke that can all indicate different things.

The color of the smoke in a fire is important for firefighters to be aware of as it can tell them what fuels are involved in the fire and what the next movements for the fire might be.

Below are some of the common colors of smoke and what they mean. 

White Smoke

When white smoke is visible in a fire, it can indicate that the fire is off-gassing water vapor, so it is just a short time away from burning materials.

These materials can be either in a building, car or house, so white smoke shows that the fire could become severe very quickly.

White smoke can also indicate that natural materials like grass or wood are burning. 

Black Smoke

When you see black smoke in a fire, this usually indicates that materials in buildings or cars are burning.

When you see black smoke coming from a fire, it can indicate that the fire is aggressive and could result in an explosion.

These fires must be handled by professionals to ensure the safety of those affected by the fire. 

Gray Smoke

When you can see gray smoke, this usually means that the fire is dying down. Gray smoke being present shows that the fire does not have anything left to burn.

Even though gray smoke is usually the indicator that the fire is stopping, the fire department should always be called to check to make sure that is the case. 

Significance Of White Smoke

Significance Of White Smoke

White smoke indicates that the fire will soon be consuming materials, which can be very dangerous in a large building, house, or car.

It is important to recognize what white smoke means since people will need to be evacuated from the area to remain safe from the fire and smoke. 

Although white smoke doesn’t indicate that the fire has started to burn the materials inside a structure, that doesn’t mean that the emergency services shouldn’t be informed.

When there is a sign of white smoke, you need to call 911 immediately and the fire department will be able to quickly arrive at the location.

How Smoke Affects Your Health

When you are surrounded by smoke from a fire, it can affect your health when you breathe too much of it in.

You can tell when smoke is affecting your body as you will experience a burning sensation in your eyes, difficulty breathing, a cough, and a runny nose.

All of these symptoms show that smoke from a fire is impacting your body and you need to move away. 

Although smoke from fires can impact anyone close to it, there are groups of people who are more at risk than others when inhaling smoke.

People who are pregnant, have diabetes, have heart disease, or have lung disease can be affected by smoke from a fire as it can have long-lasting health effects and can worsen conditions. 

Children should be kept away from smoke from fires as they are still developing, so their respiratory systems have not yet fully formed.

This can also include teenagers, as smoke can affect their developing respiratory systems and could cause them to develop conditions such as asthma. 

What To Do If You See A Fire

If you see a fire, you need to call 911 to notify the fire department that there is a fire to be put out.

When you see white smoke coming from a building or a car, you know that it is only a matter of time before the smoke becomes black and it will start to burn the structure.

The fire department will then be able to come and put the fire out. 

It is important not to try to put the fire out yourself as this is a job for firefighters who are properly trained and who have the right equipment to save lives.

Calling the emergency services will allow the fire department to quickly get to the location and stop the fire before it becomes any worse. 

Final Thoughts

To conclude, there are different colors that smoke can change to, and it is important to recognize what each color means.

When the smoke turns white, it means that the fire is currently off-gassing water vapor, but it will soon start burning materials.

This can show the fire department what stage the fire is at and what will happen next. 

It is always important to call 911 in the event of a fire as the fire department will then be able to quickly get to the scene of the fire and put it out.

This will save lives, so you should always call 911 when there is an emergency.