Fire safety depends a lot on knowing what and what not to do in an outbreak. Read these 18 tips to fortify your knowledge, because to a raging fire, ignorance is no excuse.
1. Do not use elevators during a raging fire. You may feel that’s the quickest way to safety, but in such circumstances it may be better to use the stairs because:
• Fire can short-circuit the elevator call button on the fire floor and therefore trap the elevator at that floor – not good at all.
• An elevator, being a ‘natural chimney’ can quickly fill with smoke, and there are no windows to let the smoke out.
• If ‘nepa’ cuts light while you are in the elevator…
• Everyone in the building is trying to evacuate at the same time. Can you afford to wait for the elevator to go down and come back up instead of taking the stairs?Remember that the elevator will stop at each floor where the button has been pressed on its way to the ground floor.
• Also, is it not better to leave it for the fire department to use in getting their fire fighting equipment up?
2. Before you open a door, first touch its handle or surface to see if it is hot. If either is hot, it means there is fire in the next room. It is then advisable to use a different escape route.
3. If the fire is in a public building, turn on the nearest fire alarm and alert people who are at risk
4. Call the fire service. It is advisable to have the numbers of fire service, police and ambulance services on your phone as one never knows when they might turn in handy. Someone may say that the fire services in his area don’t usually arrive on time. Well this may be true, but there is this story about a fire where the fire services arrived only when the fire had almost destroyed a building and burnt to death most members of the family resident in it. But they were able to put out the fire in the toilet, and save one member of that family. Sad but, better than everyone dying, right?
5. If you discover the fire early while it is still small and you have useful material like fire extinguisher or blanket, you can try to smother the flames; but If the fire has taken hold and you cannot put out the fire in 30 seconds, it is advisable to leave the building to safety.
6. If you discover that you are trapped by the fire, go into a room with a window and close the door (this buys you some extra time); open the window and shout for help.
7. If you decide to escape through a window, go out feet first (not head first, unless you want to land on your head).
8. If you are escaping through a window, to reduce the distance of fall, lower yourself by your arms before dropping to the ground.
9. If the fire is raging, it is not time to try to salvage every single material valuable you own; but instead time to save perhaps only the most important and accessible ones. The priorities are your life and the life of any others you can save. If you must go to pick any material valuables be directed by common sense and remember: valuables can be replaced; affidavits for lost items can be sworn; certified true copies can be sought, but life has no duplicate. So if at all you want to salvage valuables, go for the most important.
In one fire outbreak, one man (RIP) who had successfully rescued his family decided to go back to retrieve an important valuable. Sadly, he never out again.
10. If your building has marked escape routes, follow and do not ignore them and try to help others who may be confused or incapacitated like children and elders.
11. Shut any doors behind you to slow down the advance of the fire.
12. Walk quickly and calmly and do not run in a panic (many have put themselves in more danger by giving in to panic in a dangerous situation.
13. Avoid entering a smoke- filled room. Remember: no smoke without fire
14. But if you must enter a smoke-filled room, stay close to the ground as the air there is cleaner.
15. If a person’s clothing is on fire, you may find that the first thing he would do is to run around wildly, inviting more oxygen for more combustion.
16. Stop the casualty from running around and gently drop him to the ground.
17. Wrap him in heavy clothing such as a wool or cotton blanket or a thick rug. Don’t use anything synthetic
18. Roll the casualty gently on the ground until the flames go out.
Written by the Prince And Princess Charles Offokaja Foundation (CAC IT no 75980).