Is your home safe? Have you taken adequate preventive safety measures to reduce the risk of a fire outbreak? Does every member of your household know what to do in the event of a fire? Our loved ones are precious to us, so it's natural that their safety is top priority. However, if your answers to any of the questions above is 'no', then there are still some things you need to attend to in order to ensure optimum fire safety in your home. The following are a few simple steps that will help you improve the safety of your home and everyone in it.
1. Be prepared - Have a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket within reach at all times. Install smoke detectors in every room - particularly in bedrooms. Make sure the batteries are good and that the smoke detector is in proper working condition, and change the batteries at least twice a year.
2. Be vigilant - Keep a look-out for safety hazards in the home. Too many items plugged into one outlet, a shirt thrown over a lamp, a worn electrical cord, etc. Turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep. Turn off electrical appliances like pressing irons and kettles after use and unplug them from the power source. Put away matches or lighters in a high cabinet or locked drawer, out of sight and reach of children. These are just a few examples of hazards within the home.
3. Be careful in the kitchen - A high percentage of fires within the home begin in the kitchen. Make sure that young children never cook without proper supervision. Ensure that cooking surfaces are kept clean to avoid grease fires. Turn off the stove if you have to answer the phone or leave the room.
4. Enlighten everyone - Create a simple, easy to understand escape plan with definite exit routes from every room, and a safe meeting place outside your home (like a tree or neighbor's home) where your family will gather once outside. Make sure every member of the household knows and understands this plan. Also teach them how to use fire extinguishers and what numbers to call in an emergency.
5. Practise fire safety - Fire safety is not a one-off exercise. You get better at it with consistent practice. Practise fire drill exercises once a month; test your smoke detectors, make sure everyone recognizes the sound of the alarm. Also make sure they know what to do once they hear the alarm; i.e. leave the house immediately, call the emergency service numbers and provide necessary information, take a headcount, etc.