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08 December 2023

Five fire safety tips in and around the house

By Majorie Van Leijen

According to Civil Defence a third of all fires erupted in the home in 2011. Although fire can be caused by bad equipment or building material many of the fires can be prevented by aware behavior of the resident.

Against the background of International Fire Safety Week the website Compliance and Safety issued a couple of tips to be kept in mind in different corners of the house. 

The Kitchen

Your cooking should never be left unattended. Although we might think that our pots and pans are safe and grounded  on the stove, a disaster can happen in a couple of seconds. This is especially the case when frying your food.

For the food that takes longer to be prepared it is wise to set a timer. “Don't just rely on your brain; we're human, and we get distracted,” advises the site. A burning oven or stove can easily lead to a fire.

Furthermore, it is important to keep the kitchen clean. The stove and counter surfaces should be free of clutter, grease, and especially flammable objects like hairspray, bug spray, or air freshener. 

The Laundry Room

We might not realize it but faulty equipment can lead to fire. The duct work, for example, should be of hard metal rather than plastic. According to Compliance and Safety a plastic duct is prone to melt or ignite.

Furthermore, the duct should vent outdoors rather than indoors and never to a room inside the house. 

Keep the duct free of lint to help reduce the chance of fire spreading from the dryer to the vent, advises the site further. “Clean the lint trap after every use. A professional should also help you periodically dismantle the dryer to clean between the dryer drum and the heat element.” 

Electrical Devices

Without us knowing electrical devices can form a serious threat. There are many devices that can cause a fire if not designed properly. Especially devices involving heat can be hazardous, such as the ironer, water heater or lamps. Also the refrigerator, the AC or isolated switches can be considered under this category.

Be a smart shopper, advices Compliance and Safety. Buy electrical products evaluated by the nationally recognized laboratory. In the UAE this is the Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology.

Replace all frayed wires, the site also advises. Accordingly, worn, old, or damaged appliance cords should be removed from the house. Furthermore, three-prong plugs should be plugged in three-slot outlets and two-slot plugs into two-slot outlets. 

For Smokers

Smokers are advised always to smoke outdoors; it is the best way to keep safe. However, when deciding to smoke indoors there a couple of things that should be paid attention to.

Don't snooze and smoke, says the site. “If you're feeling the slightest bit drowsy (due to sleep deprivation, medication, alcohol, or any other reason), put out your fire immediately.”

Cigarette butts should never be thrown away. The best way is to snuff them out by using sand or water. 

Finally, never smoke where oxygen is being used. This might not occur often, but when a person is on oxygen therapy this could pose major risks as oxygen can be explosive and increase the fire. Even when the oxygen is turned off the building is more vulnerable. 

Be Prepared

It is very important to be prepared in case a fire does happen. Although all buildings should have an emergency plan and equipment, there are not many people who have studied these options and know what to do in case of fire, said an official at Civil Defense earlier.

Plan at least two escape routes, says Compliance and Safety. Best is to plan an escape route from every room, and most particularly the bedrooms, where you're most likely to be caught unaware, relaxed, and/or asleep.

Do not do this individually, but ddiscuss the escape routes every member of your family. Everybody should know what to do in case a fire erupts. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

And then practice. Do not only study, but be familiar with the actions that need to be taken so you can perform them better under stress. “Can you feel your way out of the house with your eyes closed, or in the dark? Do you know the quickest way to crawl out? Do you know the low windows from which you could jump? Do you instinctively use the back of your hand to feel a door's heat, and do you remain crouched down as close to the floor as possible?” asks the site.

For high-rise buildings it is important to know where the staircase is and if this staircase is unrestrained. Often these staircases are blocked with left behind furniture and residents get stuck when they need to pass. It does not hurt to try out this route a couple of times each year, advises Civil Defense.

[Image via Shutterstock]