Fire prevention tips: How to keep your home safe

(Photo by Amper Campaña)

AS the country observes the first day of the annual Fire Prevention Month in March, the Bureau of Fire Protection urged families to learn how to keep their homes safe to prevent house fires.

Guided by the theme, “Sa pag-iwas sa sunog, hindi ka nag-iisa!,” BFP stressed the importance of learning from past experiences with fire or from prior knowledge on how fires started and acting on these lessons to prevent fires at home.

March is observed as Fire Prevention or Burn Prevention Month under Proclamation No. 115-A signed by then President Ferdinand Marcos and Proclamation No. 360 in 1986.

In Cebu, fire volunteers organized a motorcade and went around the streets early morning on Monday, March 1, 2021 to mark the start of the month-long observance.

Ways to prevent fire in your home

BFP recommends the following tips on how to prevent fires in your home.

1. Never leave a warm or hot iron unattended. An unattended iron that is on will scorch fabric and may cause a fire.

2. Never leave food on a stove or in an oven unattended. Keep cooking areas free of flammable objects, such as potholders, towels, and curtains.

3. Never disable or remove the battery from a smoke alarm. Frequently test smoke alarms and make sure that you replace batteries regularly.

4. Burning candles should never be left unattended. Keep flammable items like fabric and paper away from candles.

5. Store gasoline, newspaper, and other combustibles away from sources of flame.

6. Keep space heaters on a level surface from fabric and other flammable items.

7. Avoid plugging multiple appliances into an extension cord.

8. Do not put an electrical cord under a carpet as it is highly flammable. Immediately replace defective appliances, especially electric fans that are not functional.

9. Do not replace busted fuses with coins, pins, or other metals. Fuses are meant to prevent overload.

10. Have electrical connections checked once every two years by a licensed electrician.

What to do before a fire

The safest thing to do before a fire is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

The American Red Cross provides some tips to prepare for a home fire.

1. Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.

2. Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.

3. Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.

4. Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.

5. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.

6. Make sure everyone knows the emergency hotlines.

7. Teach household members to STOP, DROP, and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.

What to do during a fire

The American Red Cross provides the following tips:

1. Know how to safely operate a fire extinguisher.

2. Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT, and CALL your local emergency phone number.

3. Yell "Fire!" several times and go outside right away. If you live in a building with elevators, use the stairs.

4. Leave all your things where they are and save yourself.

5. If closed doors or handles are warm or smoke blocks your primary escape route, use your second way out. Never open doors that are warm to the touch.

6. If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit. Close doors behind you.

7. If smoke, heat, or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call the fire department. Open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.

8. Once you are outside, go to your meeting place and then send one person to call the fire department. If you cannot get to your meeting place, follow your family emergency communication plan.

What to do after a fire

The American Red Cross recommends the following tips:

1. Ask or give First Aid where needed; cool and cover burns to reduce the chance of further injury or infection.

2. Let friends and family know you’re safe.

3. People and animals that are seriously injured or burned should be transported to professional medical or veterinary help immediately.

4. Stay out of fire-damaged homes until local fire authorities say it is safe to re-enter. (RSR)


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