It's March once again,
the time of the year here in the Philippines
to remind ourselves of fire safety and prevention
and tips on putting out fires at home or anywhere.
Especially these days that El Niño is here already,
this weather phenomenon is drying our homes faster
making them more susceptible to fires.
El Niño is bringing low to no rain
and causing lower to critical water level in our reservoirs such as dams
and causing disruptions in the water supply,
making our problem with fires worse.
The first thing to deal with fires,
whether at home or at work or anywhere
is to know what causes them
and so learn to prevent them from happening.
The common causes of fire are:
1. Faulty electrical systems or wirings -
Check wirings at home from time to time for broken wires. There maybe wires that are bitten or eaten by rats and may cause shortages or short circuits.
2. Appliances -
Unplug most of your appliances when not in use and when you leave home if possible. And do not overload an electric outlet by plugging too many devices or appliances at the same time using extension cords.
3. Unattended cooking -
Be near the kitchen all the time you're cooking something inside your homes. A few seconds you're away can get you into trouble.
4. Unattended burning candles -
Most of the time this causes fire in the slums. People living there can't afford electricity and rely on candles for lighting. Make sure candles are not placed on top of flammable materials so they can naturally burn out without causing fire.
5. Children playing with flammable materials -
Children naturally play with anything even with flammable materials such as lighters, candles, papers, etc. Keep all these flammable things away or out of their reach always.
6. Cigarette Butts -
Throwing cigarette butts on paper and other light materials can cause fire too. Put out the burning end of the cigarette before throwing it away.
7. Arson (willful and malicious setting of fire to a property) -
Be on watch, be on guard always on your property to prevent anyone from setting fire to it.
But sometimes, fires happen even when you're careful
and you're attending to your cooking in the kitchen.
The LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) you're using
may suddenly leak some gas and catch flames from your stove
causing fire in the kitchen.
You may experience fear and panic right away
forcing you to run as far away from the kitchen as possible.
But don't do it.
Face the fire and don't let it burn your house down.
The first thing to do is to turn off your LPG
and the flame will die down in few moments.
Or you can get a towel and soak it wet with water
and then wrap it around the LPG tank and the fire dies down right away.
Water alone can't put out the fire.
It's that simple.
Watch the video right below.
Or when you're cooking in the kitchen,
frying fish or meat and suddenly the heated oil catches fire.
So what to do?
Fear and panic and running away will turn your house into ashes.
The first thing you might do is to throw water on the burning oil
but please never do it!
The water will evaporate together with the burning oil
and so spread the fire around the house quicker.
See when that happens in the video right below.
you must be aware now that your devices
such as tablets and laptops can cause fire too.
They can overheat and explode if used for too long.
Even when charging these devices,
make sure to attend to them and check from time to time
and unplug them right away
the moment they're fully charged or better, just before hitting 100%.
Some articles on the web are suggesting
to charge your devices only up to 75%
so as not to stress the lithium-ion batteries they're housing.
Fire is preventable at home or anywhere
and can easily be dealt with personally
by always keeping in mind the ways and measures.
And make sure to keep the hotline numbers
of your local fire department or Bureau Of Fire Protection
in a prominent place in your house or on your devices.
What to do in case you get burns?
Immerse the burned skin in cool water (not cold) until pain subsides.
Then cover the affected area with sterile bandage or clean cloth.
Better, seek medical help right away.
Some additional info:
Have you experienced fire at home or at work
where you tried to put it out yourself or with others?
What was it like?
I myself already experienced 2 fire situations
that will never fade away in my memory for all time to come.
They're not as easy to deal with as I was told
or watched the safety tips from the authorities.
My first was when the whole block
of commercial establishments in our town
was burned down in less time than I imagined,
burning our store in the process.
The 2nd one was in the city
when a nearby house partially burned
and it threatened to set fire to my place too.
Both fire situations made me experience the reality about fires,
that fear and panic were inevitable and you couldn't help it
unlike what we've been told about keeping calm
and walking calmly away from the scene.
As far as I can remember,
it was not really the fire that caused me fear and panic
although it contributed.
It was more of the smoke that spreads quicker than fire
and more widely around.
The smoke doesn't let you breathe and would suffocate you in seconds
and would keep your eyes close or
it would be too painful to open them.
Also, I noticed that smoke went around the house
from ceiling down to the floor
and there was no foot of fresh air from the floor.
Authorities say many times that there's a foot of fresh air
from the floor up
that you have to lay flat to breathe it in case of fire.
But that was not the case.
The smoke was all over the house
and there was no more space of fresh air to breathe.
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