Recent news have been flooded with reports of residential fires that have taken place in hi-tech residential buildings that were located in the most posh and upmarket areas of a key metropolitan city in India. The common factor among all those incidents was a gross negligence of fire safety standards and procedures.
Even today, after many such disasters it is common to see prospective customers enquiring with builders and real estate brokers about exterior amenities such as swimming pool and gymnasium facilities, with scant or no regard for probing about the fire safety system in the premises. A fire and the related safety measures are usually considered as a secondary feature, something that always happens somewhere else to someone else.
However, it is wise to remember that families in residential apartment buildings live close together, so if there’s a fire at a neighbour’s house, it does affect your home and your safety too. A small incident somewhere else has the potential to rapidly spread fire, heat and smoke throughout the entire building in a matter of a few minutes, thereby affecting the safety of all occupants. Many victims of fires die from smoke or toxic gases, not only from burns.
Beware- Be Aware
Fire safety is essentially a set of procedures of practices that lay down certain guidelines for reduction of destruction caused by fire. It encompasses measures that prevent the start of a fire as well as measures for limiting the fire after it has started.
Builders and architects nowadays plan for fire safety measures during the construction phases itself. Following this, there will be a printed set of guidelines that instructs the occupants of the building on fire safety drills.
Let us take a look at some fire safety tips that can reduce your risk and ensure the safety of everyone else around you.
Cooking is the primary cause of home fires and incidentally most fires in the home begin from there, so remember when you’re in the kitchen –
- If you’ve kept something on the stove ensure that you never leave it unattended. As a thumb rule, never leave cooking unsupervised.
- It is wise to place fire extinguishers in the kitchen and in the utility areas of your home. Besides, you should also learn how to use them.
- Avoid wearing clothes with combustible fabrics and very tight fitting sleeves when cooking. Loose-fitting clothing with long, fluttering and sinuous designs especially the sleeves are a hazard.
- If there is a fire because of oil or grease, remember to immediately shut off the main gas supply and smother the flames with a fire extinguisher. If you don’t have one, use a thick rug or pour sand or earth immediately on the open flame. Do not use water.
- In case it is a small kitchen fire, you can cover the burning pan with a lid. Alternately, pour table salt or baking soda for smothering out the flame. Generally, it is better to keep the stove surface area free of remnant kitchen mess and built-up grease.
- Keep dish towels, wooden spoons and plastic ladles away from the direct cooking area and stovetop.
- If the pan has caught fire, don’t try to run out with it. Remember this has a greater potential of spreading the fire even further.
General Safety tips around the house
In case of a smoker in the house, do remember to extinguish the burning cigarette stick properly. Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths.
Practise a fire safety drill with the entire family. Chalk out the exits of the house and make sure that every family member knows at least two ways out of each room. Practice the “Stop, Drop and Roll” technique with them.
There should be one person from the family who is responsible for infants and small children in case of emergencies. Warn children in advance about the dangers of inhaling smoke. Instruct them to “get low and go” in case of smoke in the house.
In case of fire in the building, use the stairs to get out. Avoid using the elevator. In the event you are stuck inside, ensure that you cover possible areas from where smoke might come in. It helps to know the building’s fire escape exits and commit them to memory.