By Salome Ngugi.
Flames can be beautiful and associated with special moments. However, fire safety is crucial to ensure that these moments continue to bring joy to our everyday lives.
The safety of our community is a societal effort. Learn how to responsibly manage flames and fire and continue to engage in creating and maintaining special occasions.
As the Product Manager for Lighters at BIC East Africa, I am offering these tips to you all to ensure safety around fires and preparedness for emergencies that may occur.
1. Make sure your systems are in place, and operational: set up fire alarms/smoke detectors at your home and/or your workplace. This will ensure that you are alarmed of a rising fire. Make sure that you regularly test these systems to ensure they’re operational.
2. Have clear fire escape routes in place: and ensure that all people frequently visiting the area are aware of these routes. Schedule mock fire drills to ensure building goers are trained and prepared for any emergency. Preparedness and knowledge will reduce panic in the event of an actual emergency.
3. Be on the lookout: to make sure that no one in your space is using/playing with fire carelessly. If they are, ask them to stop or report them to a supervisor or an individual in charge where needed.
4. Use fire safely and responsibly:
a. Do not leave open fires unattended; don’t leave the kitchen if you have food on the stove, or a room if you have candles lit.
b. Ensure that your environment is safe and avoid having any flammable objects around before lighting up a flame.
c. Dispose of objects responsibly. For example, ensure that a cigarette bud is fully dead before disposing of it.
d. Ensure that all flammable material and lighting objects are out of children’s reach.
e. Invest in quality lighting products and store them properly.
5. Learn a thing or two about firefighting:
a. Take part in a fire safety course to be able to put out a fire when around one. This will ensure that you are able to take sensible measures to stop a fire before it gets out of control.
b. Learn about the different fire types to ensure you’re handling the situation sensibly. For instance, water is used for common combustibles like paper, wood, or plastic but cannot be used for electrical fires or those caused by flammable liquids such as oil or paraffin. Some ways of managing different kinds of fires are stated below. However, it is always advisable to take a fire safety course from a specialized institution before taking any action:
i. Oil fires: cover the flames with a metal lid or baking sheet and remove only when cool. Ensure the source of the heat is off and put out with baking soda or salt if needed (not flour or sugar).
ii. Electrical fires: cut off the electricity supply and put out with thick clothing or a heavy blanket.
iii. Gas fires: turn off the source of gas immediately and cover with a heavy blanket.
iv. Vehicle fires: turn off the car ignition, get all passengers away at a safe distance and call emergency services. Do not use water, and never open the hood of the car if flames or smoke are coming from underneath it.
While it’s important that you learn about fire safety and try to stop a fire if in site, it is also worth remembering that it only takes two minutes for fires to turn from manageable to life threatening. It is crucial that you call fire safety professionals before trying to attempt to put out a fire. If your attempt doesn’t work, step out immediately and wait for help.
Key factors to remember when faced with a fire:
• Never open doors that are warm or have heated up from a nearby fire. Always try to find a second route. If not possible, and if smoke, heat, or flames are blocking your exit, stay still in the room with the door closed and place a wet towel under the door.
• If you must escape through smoke, go low and walk/crawl under the smoke towards your exit. Close any doors behind you, if possible.
• If your clothes catch fire, remember the phrase “Stop, Drop, and Roll”. Stop what you are doing, drop to the ground, cover your face, and roll over until the flames go out. Remember that running will make the fire burn faster.
• The key factors to remember include cutting out the source of fire and starving the fire from oxygen.
Salome Ngugi, Product Manager for Lighters at BIC East Africa