Island News


Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. SOMETIMES we lie awake at night and worry about nightmare situations involving ourselves or our families. The nature of these situations differs from person
02 Oct 2010 12:00

image Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. SOMETIMES we lie awake at night and worry about nightmare situations involving ourselves or our families. The nature of these situations differs from person to person but an extremely common worry for many is the outbreak of a fire at home.
Every now and then, the news on the television, radios and in newspapers brings us images of house fire and being caught up in such an event is almost too terrifying to contemplate.
With too many homes burning up in our communities across the country, people can no longer ignore fire safety. An average of 16 homes is being destroyed by fire every month.
Several factors have contributed to this trend such as electrical, cooking, prayer diyas, candles, and children playing with matches and lighters are the main causes of fires.
National Fire Authority acting chief executive officer Jone Koroi said: “Preparation is the key to a positive outcome. Planning in advance and discussing the risk of fire with all the members of your family can reduce a fire occurrence in the first place and also increase your chances of survival if one does break out”.
“The most important things in life are the safety of our loved ones and the protection of our home and belongings. There are many products and services that one can use as homeowners to aid in security and safety.
Even so, there is not anything that will completely eliminate the risk of a tragedy such as a house fire. This can be one of the scariest moments any family ever has to go through and can leave emotional scars for years, if not forever.”
Despite the horrific consequences of house fires, as well as the relative ease with which they can occur during both the day and night, surprisingly few of us make regular safety checks around the house.
Or even plan fire safety preventative measures to avoid a fire disaster at home. Safety checks only take a few minutes and taking a small amount of time out of your day to acknowledge the real risk of fire could save your life and the lives of your loved ones.
“If we all work together and continue to support one another we will achieve our aims and get the best outcomes for our communities.
To do this we all need to start at our own homes. Each individual has to promote fire safety at home first and this will have a multiplier effect at community level and national level”.
“The same concept is being applied to businesses where building owners and business owners are encouraged to practice fire safety and have all their staff engage in fire safety training and fire protection drills”, Mr Koroi said.
Also important is the need to have a good fire safety evacuation plan from your industrial building and home.
The evacuation plan should also be regularly practiced through mock drills and all building occupants should know what to do to successfully escape from a burning house or house full of smoke.
People should know about fire safety preventative measures and most importantly to call 911 for the Fire Brigade should a fire occur.
Also remember to give the exact address of the property on fire to the fire brigade.
Fires have their good uses and fires can also get out of hand if not properly handled. The main causes of fires are: men, women and children. “We continue to call out to the men and women – the adults, to help prevent unnecessary fires from starting in the first place and one of the messages is to keep the children under close supervision at all times!” Mr Koroi said.
“You should never leave small children unattended. They are unlikely to realise the consequence of their actions and can start a fire if left alone even for a short while.
Always ensure that your child is looked after by an adult if you have to leave the child at home. Always keep matches or lighters away from children’s reach”, Mr Koroi said.
“Recently a family of seven lost all their belongings in a fire and NFA investigations revealed that the fire was initiated by a 4-year-old child who was left alone in the house at that time. The boy was trying to light the kerosene stove by lighting pieces of paper to ignite the wick for the stove and mistakenly cast the burning pieces of paper in the house which ignited surrounding combustible items”.
Electrical related problems are one of the major causes of home fires. Some of the most important things everyone needs to know and remember when dealing with electricity at home are:
l If a fuse blows in your home, do not ignore the problem, find the cause of the problem and sort it out as soon as possible.
l Make sure that electrical cables do not run underneath rugs or are hooked over nails and try never to use extension cords.
l Electrical items should always be kept well-ventilated because, if they become overheated, they can cause house fires.
Unattended cooking is another major cause of homes fires. Cooks need to make sure that their cooking appliances such as Kerosene stove, Gas Stove and Rice Cooker are in good working condition and always positioned away from combustible material, such as the kitchen curtains. When you are cooking over a naked flame, make sure that you are not wearing loose clothing. Long sleeves can easily catch alight if you are not careful.
In addition, keep all dish cloths and tea towels away from kitchen units which are next to the stove as it can easily catch alight. Never leave the stove unattended whilst you are cooking.
Always replace broken kitchen appliances with new ones which have passed vigorous safety checks.
Many people try to fix appliances such as microwaves, toasters and kettles in an attempt to save a few dollars. However, this is extremely dangerous and the appliances can become instant fire-risks.
Candles, mosquito coils, prayer diyas in appropriately placed or left unattended are also one of the causes of home fires. Candles can cause fires which can spread out of control very quickly.
Never leave candles unattended when they are lit. Always place lit candles on porcelain or tin sauces and position them where they are not likely to be knocked over.
Keep them far away from flammable material. Burning candles in a bedroom, which is filled with flammable material including curtains, cushions, and bedding, is a risky idea and should be avoided at all times if possible.
“Preparing for the possibility of a house fire takes a relatively short amount of time.
However, it is worth taking this time out of your day as it can save your life and the lives of your family members if a fire does occur at home”, Mr Koroi added.


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