Keeping our homes safe from fire this month
The Philippines saw over 8,000 fires last year, a figure that resulted in over a hundred deaths and damages worth billions of pesos.
Fortunately, these figures have been declining each year. In March last year alone, the Bureau of Fire Protection recorded 900 fires nationwide, 761 fewer cases than what was recorded in March 2010.
This month, the Bureau intends to further lower the number of cases as the country once again observes the fire prevention month.
According to Chief Supt. Santiago Laguna of the BFP National Capital Region, while March has been designated as the month when families should be more alert, every day must be regarded as fire prevention day.
“The ‘Makiisa, Makialam, at Makipagtulungan Upang Sunog ay Maiwasan’ is about being alert all the time, even if it’s no longer March. Never think that an accident is something that is inevitable since we all should know that almost every accident is preventable,” announced Laguna, who added that preventing or surviving a fire is not a question of luck but a matter of planning ahead.
He reminds the public that a home is one of the most expensive purchases one will make in his or her lifetime so keeping it safe from the devastating effects of a fire is a no brainer. Here are a few useful fire-prevention tips:
1 As much as possible, avoid using candles or lamp. Use battery-operated or rechargeable lamps as candles have been attributed as one of the leading causes of fires in the country. In most of these cases, the fire started because the candle is too close to some combustible material like curtain, paper or fabric.
2 Ensure that lighted mosquito coils are properly encased. Just like candles, lighted mosquito coils should never be left unattended and should be placed away from curtains, paper and other materials that easily catch fire.
3 Fire safety should start in the kitchen. Did you know that cooking, particularly stove-top cooking, represents the leading cause of home fires? Many such fires occur after residents put something on the stove but become distracted and forget about it.
To solve this, always stand by your pan because it is essential to give anything that’s on top of your stove your undivided attention.
If you have to leave the kitchen, turn the burner off before you answer the phone or leave the area.
4 Keep LPG tank outside. While cases of exploding tank are rare, it is still proper to store or position LPG tank used for cooking outside or in a well-ventilated area. This practice is important considering LPG is heavier than air. If it leaks it will tend to spread along the ground, appearing as a visible fog of gas.
If you smell or notice leaking LPG, immediately extinguish all flames (even cigarettes) in the area. Do not use electrical switches and evacuate the area. Report the incident to proper authorities.
5 Never let children play with matches, lighters or candles. Not only are these toddlers in danger of suffering from burn-related injuries, they could also cause fire that could gut the whole house. Teach them why they should avoid playing with these items.
Better yet, teach children by example. Let your children see you being sensible and careful about cooking, using candles and other potential fire risks. Find out more about talking to children about fire and what they should do if there is one.
Just to be safe, keep matches, lighters and candles in a place where children can’t see or reach them and put child locks on cabinets.
6 Use appliances wisely. Unplug appliances when not in use to prevent overheating. Unusual smells and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
7 Check electrical wirings. Never trust unlicensed electricians as more often than not, they do wirings that are haphazardly set up or deteriorate in just a few years.
8 Create fire instructions for children. It is important to inform children what to do if there’s a fire but not to the point of frightening them. This is important as children need to know how to react, as there may not be an adult around to tell them what to do if a fire happens.
Here are some basic instructions that you may give: If they see smoke or flames, they should tell someone straight away—a grown-up if possible—and get out of the house as soon as possible. Never hide under a bed or inside the bathroom.
Remind the children not to go back into the house for anything.
9 Know your escape route. Plan an escape route and make sure that every member of the household is familiar with it, including children. Keep all these exits clear and practice the escape plan with children.
In the event of fire, one should know what immediate steps to take to keep it from spreading.
Small fires may be extinguished by smothering the flame with a nonflammable item like a pot cover or a dampened towel or blanket.
Water should be used only for nonelectrical fires and fires not caused by gasoline and similar combustible fluids. In the face of apparent danger, one should quickly run to a safe place and allow trained fire fighters to handle the situation.
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