Did you know that accidental fires account for 6% of all unnatural deaths in India? In our blogs, we often address the safety of commercial buildings and structures, hospitals, and even banks. In this blog, we would like to discuss a topic that concerns us all, fire safety at home. Data indicates that on average, 54 people succumb from fire accidents in India every day! Over 1.3 lakh citizens were killed in accidental fires from 2010 to 2014, and ever since, the numbers have been on the rise.
What’s more, is that states like Kerala have reported the most incidents in residential complexes or dwelling units. Over 50% of the fire incidents in Kerala take place in homes. Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh were all in the same category, with the maximum number of accidents being reported were caused by a residential fire. This makes it clear that there is a dire problem with fire safety awareness and implementation in India, which is why we will explore some simple tips which will help you safeguard your home against fire.
The best way to fight a fire is to nip it in the bud, and so we like to base most of our firefighting strategy on fire detection and prevention. Here are some preventive measures that can be taken at home.
- Installation of gas detectors
Gas detectors are a must in the kitchen, LPG gas detectors will raise the alarm in case the LPG gas levels are higher than usual. The detectors will raise the alarm a few moments before the gas leak is dangerous, which means that you will have enough time to put the mains off.
- Use of smoke detectors
Smoke detectors are essential in the kitchen, and if any members in your family smoke, then there should be detectors in every room. Ever wondered why public smoking is illegal in India? It’s because cigarette buds have been one of the main causes of fires. An alarming statistic mentioned in the Times of India in Jan 2017: careless smokers were the cause of 4821 fires in Hyderabad, ranging from accidents caused by disposing them of improperly or in flammable spaces. Almost all these fires can be easily contained with the help of smoke detectors, you will get an alarm before the flame ignites, which will save a lot of time.
- Installation of heat detectors
Sometimes, malfunctioning electrical appliances may cause a short circuit which can ignite a fire. In such instances, a heat detector will give you a heads up, before it’s too late.
- Getting Fire Extinguishers
These nifty little devices can make all the difference to property damage. If for whatever reason a fire starts, the extinguisher will release firefighting agents, so that the fire is contained. This is obviously handy for when people are in the house, giving you ample of time to exit the home calmly. Everyone in your home should know how to operate the fire extinguisher.
In case of slightest fire or smoke, if the alert is raised within time, it can help in containing the fire. This is where alarm systems come in. Alarm systems will inform the authorities on time so that the damage is contained in the best and quickest way possible. MCP (Manual Call Point) is one such alarm systems that can help you safeguard your home. Manual Fire Alarms are seen in passageways of schools and buildings and are handy to have in a home as well, especially if you live in a more spacious apartment. If a fire breaks out in the night or in the wee hours of the morning, an MCP will wake everyone up for evacuation.
Alarm & Emergency Management (AEMS) for senior citizens
A combination of smoke and gas leak protection, alarm and emergency management systems are useful for homes which house the elderly. It is a special gas detection device that also raises the alarm system which alerts authorities for help immediately. Senior Citizen Complexes can use AEMS to alert the trained staff. Mini Command Centre could be established in the property manager’s office. Various sensors fitted at individual homes send alerts to the command center. These systems help in providing 24-hour assistance from trained personnel, nurses could be provided.
A few tips to avoid fire at home
So now you know how to detect and contain a fire, but what can you do to ensure that the risk of fire even starting is minimised? Here are a few tips to avoid fires at home.
- Discuss fire safety with your family, especially children
Communication is key when it comes to fire safety at home. Be sure to have a talk with the members and devise a fire escape plan in case of an emergency. Pay close attention to educating children about what to do in case of an emergency, as well as the senior citizens.
- Do not leave anything unattended in the kitchen
Kitchen fires are the most common domestic fires. Most are started by letting things heat to very high temperatures. Whether it’s a pot of water or a curry, never leave anything unattended in the kitchen. Always be alert.
- Keep ashtrays around the house
Even if your household consists of non-smokers, you may have guests and visitors who may smoke. It always makes sense to keep ashtrays handy, so that guests do not try to stub their buds in dustbins. Putting out buds improperly is the easiest way to start a fire, so make sure that ashtrays are accessible in the house.
- Keep flammable substances out of the reach of children
Fires can start even from decorative or religious items. The traditional Indian alter consists of a bunch of flammable materials, amidst many things that can be toppled over, dotted with fire sources such as candles, diyas, etc. Make sure that all of this is absolutely out of reach of young children, who may accidently start a fire, unintentionally.
- Never leave a candle or lamp overnight
This is always a no-no. If you have frequent power cuts at night, get an electric torch or lamp. If you fall asleep with the lit candle, all that’s required is a gust of wind to topple over the candle and start a devastating fire, so whether it’s for decoration or illumination, make sure that you put the source of the flame off before bedtime.
While there is very little that you can do to protect yourself from fires in public places, the safety of your own home is in your hands. This is important because you have the ability to secure your home and prevent accidents that could be fatal. Fire safety is one of those things that most people take lightly, up until the victim of a fire is a loved one. Don’t wait for things to get out of hand, it always pays to be careful, aware and prepared when it comes to fire safety.