Ghana National Fire and Rescue Service issues safety tips

One of the dangers in any home is the possibility of fire. It can destroy property and seriously injure or even kill people and animals. Fortunately, there are many things that all of us can do to prevent fires and stay aware of the dangers of fire.

It is also important to know exactly what to do in case there is a fire; Let’s learn some more about home safety:

Fires occur in homes simply because people are careless. A smoke detector is a great tool that helps to alert us in case there is a fire.

As a family, you should also plan an escape route in case there is a fire. Practice escaping through this route with everyone including your pets and decide on a place of assembly in an emergency.

The kitchen
The kitchen is the longest area of fire hazard since we use various gadgets and tools to cook and heat food every day. Remember that lamps, heaters and electrical cords are also a source of heat. Don’t cover these objects with items such as paper, plastic or cloth, since it could overheat and start a fire.

Tips for your Kitchen:
The most common fire occurs from people leaving food on the stove unattended. Don’t leave the kitchen without turning off the stove and take your pots and pans off the cooker. Equally take your food out of the oven and turn it off.

Long flowing sleeves and even aprons can catch fires, close fitted dress and well-filled aprons are recommended.

Because of the items around the stove top, kitchen towels, appliance cords, and even curtains can easily catch fire, if set near a hot burner. Always move flammable items away from stove tops. Be sure towels don’t dangle and touch the burner.

Keep a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen in case of fire, a fire extinguisher can make the difference between an easy to clean up burned pan and a kitchen engulfed in flames. Be sure you know how to use it.

Make sure your smoke detector is operable. Change your smoke detector batteries every six months

Never threw hot grease in a garbage can even if it’s not on fire. It can cause something in the garbage to burn, instead dispose it off in an old empty can.

Candles are another common cause of home fires, be sure to extinguish candle flame as soon as you are done in the kitchen.

Look out for leakages on your gas cylinder tubes by regularly smearing soapy water on tubes for bubbles.

Employ the services of a qualified repairer to serve service your faulty stoves.

Be prepared in case a kitchen fire occurs, the best thing to do if you have a stove top fire is to put a proper fitting lid over the pan or pot to smother it. Never use water and never pick a burning pan up and put it in a sink, since you risk getting badly burnt.

Have a fire escape plan, keep the Fire Service Emergency number 192 written or saved on your phone.

Have an escape plan with your family especially your kids before a fire occurs.

Stop, Stop, Roll: in the event where you catch fire, follow the Stop, Drop, roll principle. Don’t run if your clothing catches fire – stop where you are, drop to the ground, roll, then get to a hospital to get treatment for your burns.

Never hesitate to call the Ghana National Service on 192 even if you have successfully put out the fire.

· Never overload electric sockets.
· If you need more electric sockets, hire an electrician to install more.

· Make sure that you use the correct fuses in your appliances.

· Unplug all unnecessary electrical appliances at night

· Make sure you keep ashtrays empty after use.
· Never smoke when tired or after alcohol, as cigarette butts can stay lighted and cause fire.

· Keep matches and lighters in a safe place and away from children.

· Do not run cords under carpets as it may get heated and start a fire.

· Stay clear of any obstructions in the living room

The best way to avoid injury or death from a bedroom fire is to make sure it does not start at all.

·    During power outages, it is advisable not to leave a candle on when you are not available in the room, this may cause accidental fires when it come into contact with any combusted material. Open flames should be avoided in the bedroom.

·   It is advisable to have a smoke detector in your bedroom.

·   Remove or decongest your bedroom to make it less prone to fire when exposed to heat.

Always allow a lot of ventilation in the bedroom.
· Do not leave young children alone even for a short time and know what they are doing at short intervals.

· Observe fire safety routines and housekeeping practices in factories and warehouses

· Create a fire escape plan in the bedroom consult Ghana National Fire Service for advice.

The following precautions can reduce the risk of a bedroom fire:

· Smoking in the bedroom should be an absolute no.
· Candles should be kept away from anything that can catch fires.

· Keep wastebaskets empty of paper trash and do not leave large stacks of paper lying around, since paper is one of the best fuels for a fire.

· Lower the risk of an electrical fire and do not plug in too many devices to a single outlet. Frayed or damaged electrical cords should also be replaced.

· Keep an extinguisher in a place where it will be available in case of a fire.

· Unauthorized electrical connections must be discouraged.

· Use of inferior electrical cables and devices must be avoided since they can cause fire

· Storage of flammable substances such as LP gas, petrol, oil paints etc. in a residence should be discouraged.

· Over ten (10) years electrical wiring must be re-examined since it could start fire.

· Overloading of electrical circuit with appliances can cause fires.

· Where smoking is allowed, ash – tray must be emptied into separate waste bins.

· Hazardous materials must be stored according to manufacturer’s specifications.

· Structural engineering must not be changed without the knowledge of the Fire Service.

· Regular maintenance of electrical equipment must be ensured.

·    Electrical fires start for a variety of reasons:

·    Faulty wiring, badly – made products, overloaded circuits and frayed extension cords all play a part in contributing to the causes of electrical fires. Here is an overview of some of the common causes of electrical fires – and how to put one out.

What Causes an Electrical Fire?
·   Counterfeit products are found in a surprisingly large number of legitimate stores. These products are knock-offs of brand – name products that are sold under the brand illegally – and often the stores themselves aren’t aware there are counterfeits on their shelves. The bad news is that counterfeits products are often not equipped to comply with even the most basic safety standards, bad wiring in these products can easily cause electrical fires.

·   Faulty wiring in the wall is also a common cause of electrical fires. When an electrical current passes through wiring, it generates heat. This heat can cause the wiring located behind a house’s wall to contract and expand, which eventually loose, the electricity passing within them can arc out, producing heat in excess of 900 degrees Celsius. Especially in dry weather, this can ignite wooden beams and supports in a flash.

·   Frayed extension cords can start residential fires as well. Make sure you don’t overuse your extension cords. If you’re using one every day to plug in an appliance for several weeks, call an electrician to have a new wall socket installed instead. Don’t run extension cords beneath rugs or behind furniture – it may be walked on in a high-traffic area, and you also cannot tell if it’s overheating until after a fire has started.

What to Do In Case of an Electrical Fire
·   If you start to see smoke coming out of your wall socket, chances are that a fire has already ignited behind your walls. Don’t think you’ve turned off the problem if you’ve turned off the power; you may have cut the cause of the fire, but the fire itself is probably still burning.

·   Putting out electrical fires can also be difficult. Water will cause electrocution rather than putting out a fire, and chemical powders used to repress other types of fires may cause an electrical fire to smolder and flare up again. Class C fire extinguishers will extinguish electrical fires, so grab one if it’s close by it’s definitely critical to make sure an ABC-class fire extinguisher is easily accessible on each floor of your house. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher handy, turn off your electrical power, evacuate your home, and call the Fire Service Emergency 192.

·    Electrical fires can be highly dangerous and they are very common causes of residential fires. However, they can be prevented. Be careful not to overload any sockets, power strips or extension cords.  Make sure extension cords aren’t left in high-traffic areas and are not used for more than a few weeks on a regular basis. With these tips, you should be able to keep your home relatively safe from electrical fires.”

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