“Wherever you are right now as you read this, look around. Take mental notes on the layout of the room, where the furniture is, where the windows and doors are and so on. Most likely you’re at a place you’ve been before, and if an emergency were to break out, you’d be confident and deft at finding your way to safety quickly. Visualize how you’d slink down the hall and to the stairs, cutting familiar angles on your way to the reprieve of the street. No sweat, right?
Let’s try again, only now the building is engulfed in flames. You can’t see anything because the smoke is thick enough to block out whatever light there is. You’re on your hands and knees to utilize the little remaining visibility, feeling the edges around you to compensate for the functional loss of your primary sense. This also helps to partially avoid the searing heat billowing up all around you. As sweat pools on your skin, it instantaneously turns to a scalding vapor. Your blood vessels dilate to try and regulate the increasing temperature of your body. The fire surrounds you physically and psychologically; you try to cover your face, but it still seeps into your mouth and nose, causing you to cough up fumes like the exhaust of an old car. The room around you splinters crackles and groans as if an invisible enemy is descending upon you from all sides, turning what was once a familiar room into a jungle gym of danger. Time slows; your heart pounds; your fingers tremble with adrenaline; panic fogs your thinking the same way the smoke clouds the room; you hurriedly pull at the door handle to escape.
Now imagine you’re trying to go into the room…”