The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has kicked off its campaign for this year's Fire Protection Month. This year's theme is “Kaligtasan sa Sunog: Alamin, Gawin, at Isabuhay Natin.”
Two of the BPF's projects that are geared towards the children are distribution of a storytelling book entitled Berong Bumbero sa Paaralan and teaching school-aged kids how to use a fire extinguisher. The bureau will also conduct a house-to-house information drive to educate families about safety measures and emergency plans.
March has been declared as Fire Prevention Month annually since 1966's Proclamation Act 115-A. The law assigns each month of the year to focus on a one safety and accident prevention issue. According to an infographic made by CNN Philippines, fire incidents have been increasing—last year there was a total of 17, 138 fire incidents nationwide from 15, 897 in 2015. The three main causes of fire are electrical connections, lighter cigarette butts, and open flames via torches.
As with any kind of disaster and emergency situations, prevention is better than cure. Here are some tips to prevent fire in the home:
1. Keep your home electrical system safe. "My husband makes sure our electrical wirings are checked every year. It's a small price to pay compared to having the ceiling repainted, or worse, burning down the house," shares Sue Espiritu, account executive and single mom of two. Always buy lights and other electrical paraphernalia from a reputable seller. Don't overload sockets. Turn off appliances when not in use, or shut off the main fuse when going on out-of-town trips.
2. Install safety precautions at home. If you can afford it, install smoke detectors in the areas of the house that are prone to fire such as the kitchen. Switch to an electrical gas range or a safer option, such as the EC Gas LPG Cylinder, if possible. Mom-of-two Marina Cruz swears by its no-gas-leak safety feature. Invest in a fire extinguisher and that everybody in the house knows how to use it. Think PASS: Pull the pin. Aim at the base of the fire. Squeeze the operating handle, and then Sweep from side to side.
3. Keep flammable materials in safe places. Lighters, matches, and such should be out of children's reach. In case of power outage, candles and lamps should not be placed beside curtains--and put them out before going to bed. Keep a tidy home. “We segregate our trash at home and the flammable ones are disposed of every day so it doesn’t pile up and become a fire hazard,” shares mom-of-four Esper Jimenez. Also, no smoking inside the house (better yet, stop smoking?).
4. Have emergency procedure in place. Post emergency hotline numbers posted near your phone. Map out an escape plan and determine safe evacuation area outside the house. Dad Paulo Rey printed their fire escape plan and first-aid guidelines and then gave each member of the family a copy; he also arranged for his household staff to undergo basic training. Conduc tyour own fire drills at home to practice. Don't forget these reminders in case of fire, according to the BFP:
Do not panic. Move fast but in an orderly manner.
Use the stairs, not the elevators. Check for heat in the doorknobs before opening doors.
Keep your head low or get down to the floor and crawl towards your exit. Use a wet or damp towel to cover your nose and mouth to minimize inhalation of smoke.
Remember "Stop, Drop, and Roll" in case of fire.
In case of skin burns, run cold water on the affected area, and wrap it in a clean damp cloth until medical help arrive.
Sources March 3, 2016. "Fire Prevention Month: BFP to carry out house-to-house, storytelling on fire safety" (cnnphilippines.com) April 16, 2014. “Know what to do in case of fire” (rappler.com)