The dangers of fire: Common causes and tips on how to prevent it
CEBU CITY, Philippines – One of the most destructive disasters in the world is fire, because it can happen anywhere and at any time.
With the blink of an eye, lives and millions worth of properties could be lost.
From Jan 1 to March 31,2023, there have been 3560 incidents nationwide, according to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
This number continues to increase especially during the dry and humid season.
In Cebu City, one of the biggest fires so far happened in one of the high-rise condominium buildings here last April 14.
The fire that lasted for almost six hours caused close to P4 billion in damages.
Earlier on April 14, a fire also hit a residential area in Barangay Banilad, claiming the life of one man. It also left at least 75 families homeless.
As they say, “prevention is better than cure.” So take note of these common causes of fires to have an idea on how to prevent it from happening.
1. Faulty electrical wiring – The continued use of defective wiring is the cause of majority of fire incidents. This includes improper connection of wires, torn/damaged or substandard electrical wires, and the excessive use of extension cords.
2. Incendiarism or Arson – Intentional and malicious burning of properties using chemicals, bombs, etc. is also a common cause.
3. Unattended flames – Many house fires are caused by unattended candles or kerosene lamps placed near combustible materials. Fires in the kitchen are usually due to forgotten oil on an open stove.
4. Gas leaks – A significant number of violent fire incidents start from leaks in containers of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
5. Fireworks – Fireworks are beautiful but they also pose a risk to be the cause of fires. Improper use, storage, handling, and display of these hazardous materials are very dangerous.
6. Spontaneous heating – Fires can occur because of chemical reactions within certain materials. It can be dangerous when sparks form when materials like animal oils, coal, sawdust, cotton, grain, and hay rise in temperature.
7. Static electricity – Flammable vapors, gases, and solid materials can be set on fire by charges built up creating enough energy to produce a spark.
8. Smoking – As it is such a common habit, smoking carelessly is regarded as the fourth leading cause of fire in the Philippines.
After learning the most possible causes of fire, the next step is to learn what preventive measures to take to ensure fire safety for yourself and the people around you.
Here are 10 safety tips in order to avoid the occurrence of fire:
1. Examine electrical installations on a regular basis and have any broken electrical wiring or fixtures updated or repaired by a qualified technician.
2. Practice unplugging appliances when not using.
3. Add more lights and appliances on existing circuits to prevent overload and cut off unauthorized electrical connections.
4. Dispose flammable items properly and keep them out of children’s reach at all times.
5. Do not leave kitchen while cooking.
6. Switch off Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) tank regulator when not using and place container in well-ventilated spaces.
7. Invest in high quality appliances to ensure that the product passed the quality standard testing.
8. Throw away cigarette butts properly and always maintain cleanliness.
9. Save the emergency contacts of the local fire department and immediately call for help in case of fire.
10. Prepare an escape plan and identify best route for evacuation. If you are living in a high-rise apartment or condominium, follow these steps to help you escape:
• Leave the room and close the door.
• Pull the fire alarm to alert everyone else as well as the fire department.
• Use the stairs to get out.
• Head to the designated meeting place and stay there.
• If you are unable to leave the room, stuff the door and vents with wet towels or sheets to prevent the smoke from coming in.
• Call 911 and let them know where you are.
• Place a bright colored cloth outside a window to signal your location.
Being informed creates a huge difference in times of emergencies. Knowing these tips and steps might just save your life and of the people around you.
And the most important preventive measure of all is to remain vigilant at all times and pay attention to your surroundings. Fires can be prevented and it is a common responsibility to be careful for everyone’s safety.
Fire disasters hurt to thousands of Filipinos every year. Families have lost their loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods. This is why we must do everything we can to prevent this kind of disaster and keep everybody safe. Fire is dangerous but with the right measures and attitude, it can be prevented.
Keep this information handy and take part in the efforts to ward off any more fire incidents in the community in the future.
/ bmjo, dcb
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