We don’t often spare much thought for the fire safety around us until something tragic happens. While no one wishes for fire disasters in a home, accidental fires are bound to happen whether or not we are prepared. How well any home deals with a fire plus the prevention methods put in place prior can be the difference between saving lives and property or losing everything.
In the wake of the gas explosion that rocked Accra on October 7, 2017, we put together some quick fire safety and prevention tips for every home.
Fire Prevention Tips
1. Identify Potential Sources of Fire
The solution to any problem is to first identify the problem; and that is no different for fire safety and prevention. It is up to the household to note potential fire sources within the home. Some of these fire sources include stoves and cooktops; irons, candles, bad wiring, heaters, smoking and children playing with fire.
2. Install Smoke Detectors
Fires often start without anyone realising it until it’s too late. A good way to avoid fires taking you by surprise is to install smoke (and natural gas) detectors. These detectors will sound an alarm once they sense smoke. Natural gas detectors will go off once they detect gases such as carbon dioxide or propane in large quantities. Test these detectors every month to ensure they’re in good working order.
3. Create Space Between Fire Hazards
It is important to create space between anything that heats up in your home and things that easily catch fire. Ideally, there should be about 3 feet between these heat generators (such as gas cookers) and other objects. In the kitchen, for example, keep things such as curtains, wall hangings and napkins at least 3 feet away from the cooktop. Such items hanging too close to unattended fires could ignite.
4. Constantly Check on Electrical Connections and Appliances
One of the commonest causes of fires at home, electrical fires can be very devastating. To prevent electrical fires, households should employ licensed electricians to install, repair and handle all electrical issues within the house. These electricians will use the highest quality materials and save you a lot of trouble. Additionally, households should use surge protectors; be vigilant when checking on electrical wiring; constantly replace any frayed or cracked electrical cords and, finally, keep flammable materials (like rugs and blankets) away from electrical appliances as much as possible.
5. Install Fire Extinguishers
(Portable) fire extinguishers can be the difference between a small, contained fire and a raging inferno that costs lives and property. Every household should install fire extinguishers as a fire safety measure. Ideally, they should be mounted on brackets or in wall cabinets with the carrying handle placed about 3 to 5 feet above the floor. Larger extinguishers, however, should be mounted at lower heights. Install the extinguishers close to exits and in the kitchen and garage.
6. Build A Home Fire Escape Plan And Test It Regularly
When most people think about home fire safety, fire extinguishers are one of the first things that come to mind. But what’s the point of a fire extinguisher when nobody (or just one person) knows how to use it? Develop a home fire escape plan and test is as often as possible, especially when you have children at home. These fire drills teach the household how to use extinguishers and the different types of fire extinguishers meant for different kinds of fires.
The plan also shows what to do in the event of a fire. For instance, did you know that you have to stop, drop and roll if your clothes catch on fire? Or that when there is smoke in the room, you have to get below it and crawl to the door? A regularly tested home escape plan is the best way to remember what to do during a fire (or any type of emergency).
7. Keep Handy Emergency Numbers Close
There’s nothing more frustrating than being unable to call for help when you’re in a pinch. During emergencies, every household member must know what emergency numbers to contact. It also helps to post the emergency numbers, toll-free and/or paid in a visible area in case you can’t remember. This is especially useful in a country like Ghana where there are different emergency numbers for different situations. You can generally dial 911/999/192 for the general emergency service. As a precaution, research all the handy phone numbers every home should have in Ghana.
Sometimes, no amount of preparedness can prevent disaster. In the event of a fire at home or office, however, these tips by the Ghana National Fire Service can help save lives and property:
- Call 0302772446 / 0299340383 / 192 immediately and don’t hang up on the emergency responder until you are told to do so. Also, try and save your local fire station number on your phone.
- Close doors when exiting to help limit the spread of smoke and fire throughout the building.
- Never use elevators during an evacuation.
- Follow the escape plan and meet at a pre-determined place outside of your building and away from danger. Conduct a headcount to ensure all of your staff are safely evacuated.
- The best way to ensure the safety of your staff is through fire prevention and preparation.
- Talk with your staff about fire safety in the workplace today or contact your local fire station for fire safety education.Alternatively, you can subscribe online via http://gnfs.gov.gh/content/request-safety-education and our safety instructors are sure to respond in the shortest possible time.
Finally and most importantly, if a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP. Never go back inside for anything or anyone. We extend our prayers and condolences to the victims of the fearsome gas explosion that hit Accra. Let us follow the steps above to reduce the likelihood of recurrence of such disasters. It is only through vigilance on all of our parts we can prevent destructive fires.