March serves as a reminder that Fire Prevention Month is underway in the Philippines, as we hear the sirens of fire trucks roving the streets of Cebu City.
The prolonged echoing sound of the sirens keeps us alert when it comes to observing fire safety tips to keep ourselves safe in the event of a fire.
House fires don’t just happen randomly. There are many factors that contribute to such an incident, and they could have been prevented in the first place had the individuals involved been aware of basic fire safety tips.
That’s why it’s important to be mindful of how you can prevent fire incidents from happening, especially in your own home.
FIRE SAFETY TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND
1. Unplug all electrical devices that are not in use.
Did you know that things like your computer, TV, phone, and other electronic devices that are plugged in still consume electricity even when they’re turned off? This phenomenon is called “vampire energy.” It means there’s an excessive current flowing through these unplugged, switched off devices.
So if you’re not paying attention to them, these devices can become a potential hazard for overheating and causing a fire.
2. Check all your electrical connections.
Inspect your electrical wiring to see if it hasn’t been torn or chewed up, or look for warning signs like sparkling switches, flickering lights, and a burning smell when appliances are plugged in. Replace damaged sockets, defective cords, and frayed wires immediately to avoid causing a fire.
An electrical inspection may not be something you think about often, but it’s important to regularly have your systems checked.
Below are some of the benefits:
- Avoids malfunctions.
- Keeps your system efficient.
- Protects appliances and electronics from faulty wiring.
3. Avoid plugging several devices into an extension cord.
Plugging too many devices into an extension cord can overload the circuit. Exceeding the rated load of the circuit wiring causes the circuit breaker to shut off the power to the entire circuit, which could melt the wire insulation and lead to a fire.
If you want to plug several devices into your extension cord, you must add up the wattage rating for all the appliances to make sure it will not become overloaded.
4. Never leave an open stove unattended.
Turn off your stove (especially if it’s a gas stove) and take your pans off the burner if you are going to leave the kitchen, even if it’s for a short period of time. It’s because the gas will continue to flow from the stove, and if there’s an open space like a window or door, the gas will escape into the environment and could lead to an explosion.
Also, be aware of the items around your stove. Kitchen towels and other pieces of cloth can easily catch fire if set near a hot stove.
OTHER SAFETY TIPS TO CONSIDER
- Talk to children about the dangers of fire and keep lighters and matches out of their reach.
- DROP and ROLL in case your clothing catches fire.
- Crush cigarette butts thoroughly before discarding them.
- Keep lighted candles and oil or gas lamps away from curtains and other objects that can easily catch fire.
- Kerosene and gas stoves should be checked for leakage and regularly cleaned. It’s best to invest in a quality LPG tank.
- Extinguish all live charcoal and embers after cooking in the kitchen. Make sure to have a thorough inspection before resting the night.
WHAT TO DO IF THERE’S A FIRE IN YOUR HOME
If a fire breaks out in your home, call the nearest fire station immediately. However, since it will take some time for them to get to your location, you shouldn’t rely solely on the experts.
Some important fire safety tips on which you must act immediately until help arrives include:
If you encounter a small fire
- First of all, stay calm and don’t panic.
- Don’t waste time saving your valuables.
- Don’t shout “FIRE” when you try to wake anyone in your house who may be asleep.
- Check closed doors for heat before you open them. If the door is hot, DO NOT open it. This means that the door is holding the fire back and opening it would allow the fire to spread.
- Use any available fire extinguisher. Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire. Firefighters are trained to use fire extinguishers, but if that’s the only way to save everyone in your house, here’s your quick guide:
P – PULL safety pin from the handle
A – AIM (nozzle, cone, horn) at the base of the fire
S – SQUEEZE the trigger handle
S – SWEEP from side to side (watch for reflash)
If trapped in a room
- Stay low in case of smoke or fumes. If you’re in bed, roll off your bed and crawl to the door.
- Put a wet cloth under closed doors to help prevent the spread of smoke.
- If you need to break a window to crawl out, use a chair or a drawer, or a similar hard object. Throw a pillow or blanket over the windowsill to protect yourself from broken glass while crawling out.
If caught in smoke or fumes
- If your clothing catches fire, stop where you are. Immediately drop to the ground and cover your mouth and face with your hands to protect them from flames. Roll over to smother the fire.
- Keep your head down and close your eyes as often as possible. Hold your breath as much as possible to avoid being suffocated.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A FIRE
Recovering from a house fire can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Often, the hardest part is knowing where to begin and who to contact.
The following list will help you manage the situation:
- Listen to fire service advice. It’s part of their response to advise you on what to do next, in terms of recovering from the damage caused by the fire.
- Only re-enter your home once you’ve been advised to do so by authorized officials.
- Do not attempt to reconnect utilities yourself. Let the authorities check if the facilities are either safe to use or are better off being disconnected before they leave the site.
- If there is any recovered food, make sure that it’s safe. Discard any food that may have been exposed to heat, smoke, or soot.
FIRE EMERGENCY HOTLINE IN CEBU CITY
Lahug Fire Sub-Station
Gorordo, Ave. Cebu City
(032) 256 0541
Pari-an Fire Sub-Station
Sikatuna St. Cebu City
(032) 255 0785
Guadalupe Fire Sub-Station
V. Rama Ave. Cebu City
(032) 253 9474
Pardo Fire Sub-Station
1515 Cebu S Road, Cebu City
(032) 272 9411
When it comes to safety, prevention is always better than cure. Follow these fire safety tips and learn how you can best protect your loved ones, your home, and your own life.