For the first two months of 2023, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) recorded almost 2,000 fire incidents in the Philippines. That's around 30 incidents daily. With March being Fire Prevention Month, it’s only proper to reflect on how we can improve the statistics.
As everyone can agree, no one wins in a fire. Not those whose properties get ravaged by the flames. Not those who lose their limbs—or worse—their lives. Not those who watch the whole tragedy unfold from a distance. Not even the environment gets anything out of it but toxic gases and fumes. When a fire breaks out, everyone loses.
Fires may break out without warning. But that doesn’t mean they happen out of nowhere. Most of the time, fires are completely preventable. Below are some fire prevention tips you should check out for your safety.
What are the Goals of Fire Prevention?
A fire prevention program is considered successful when these three goals are met:
- Prevent the loss of life
- Protect properties from damage
- Avoid downtimes caused by operational disruptions
What is a Fire Triangle?
For a fire to ignite and maintain combustion, three elements are needed: fuel, heat, and oxygen.
When at least one of these is missing or is present but only at low levels, a fire can’t start or spread. That’s why one of the basic strategies for preventing fire is to isolate sources of fuel or heat. Needless to say, removing oxygen from the equation is most of the time nearly impossible.
What are the Top 10 Fire Prevention Tips to Remember?
Here are 10 fire safety tips for keeping your home or workplace safe from disasters:
1. Avoid Electrical Overloading
Overloading your circuits is a big fire hazard—this is one of the most important fire safety reminders you shouldn't overlook. Avoid plugging too many devices into your electrical outlets to keep them from overheating and catching fire.
High energy-consuming appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners should also have their own outlets to prevent electrical overloading at home.
Also, practice unplugging your devices and appliances when not in use. It's a good practice whether you’re just going to bed for a few hours or leaving your home or workplace for an extended period.
2. Check Electrical Connections for Faulty Wiring
Faulty electrical wiring can cause a fire. To prevent it, have a licensed electrician periodically check your appliances for exposed or worn-out wires.
Even on your own, you can easily spot some signs of damaged wiring, including out-of-place flickers and a burnt smell. When you spot frayed wires, damaged sockets, or defective electrical equipment, have them fixed or replaced immediately.
3. Fireproof Your Kitchen
You can never get too many fire safety tips in the kitchen, which can be a fire hazard all on its own if not properly maintained.
Whatever you do in the kitchen, don’t leave a gas stove on unattended. Even if you have to leave momentarily, just turn off the stove until you can attend to it again.
Another crucial fire safety tip is to not lean over open flames when wearing loose clothing to keep it from catching fire. Also, keep your cooking area free of combustible objects like potholders and towels.
Lastly, after using charcoal for cooking, make sure to extinguish the embers completely.
4. Turn Off Gas Tanks When Not in Use
It only takes an errant spark to cause your gas tank to ignite. To avoid a terrible accident, close your liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) every after use. It's one of the most important safety tips for fire prevention that you must take to heart.
Also, constantly check the LPG for any leak or damage to avoid not only fire but also health risks.
5. Keep Your Light Sources Secured
This is another of those fire safety tips that seem easy to do but are still somehow ignored.
It’s common for Filipinos to light candles or gasera (kerosene kamp) during a power outage. If this is something you do as well, make sure that you use sturdy candle holders that can keep your candles in place. Also, look for a clear spot where candles and gaseras won’t be tipped over.
Also, keep your candles away from things that can easily catch fire, including curtains, carpets, bedsheets, and paper.
For safety against fire, use a rechargeable lamp or flashlight as an alternative light source during a power outage.
6. Remove Common Fire Hazards
Not all fire hazards are blatantly noticeable. A pile of leaves in your front yard looks harmless until extreme heat turns it into a bonfire.
Sometimes, what sets off a fire could be a stack of old newspapers, a mound of empty plastic bottles, or a clump of overgrown shrubs.
Fires are hard to foresee, so some people prepare for the unexpected. For example, they get mortgage redemption insurance to ensure that their outstanding mortgage debt is paid in the event of total disability or death during a fire. It may sound grim, but it’s actually a good measure in addition to fire prevention.
7. Practice Good Housekeeping Habits
This is one of the top 10 fire safety tips at home that you can incorporate into your lifestyle. Practicing good housekeeping habits not only prevents fire but also improves your overall well-being.
As a rule of thumb, keep aisles, walkways, and stairways clear of any trash. Having clean and clear pathways at home or in the office can prevent the spread of fire. It also gives people enough space to move and evacuate during emergencies.
Properly labeling items is also a good exercise to avoid misplacing flammable substances and corrosive liquids.
8. Observe Proper Smoking Etiquette
If you’re tempted to smoke inside the house, just don’t—unless you have a designated smoking area at home designed to prevent fires.
Smoking in bed should be avoided at all costs. Linens and mattresses can catch fire easily, so you want to stay as far away from them as possible when smoking.
Also, use an ashtray to crush your cigarette stubs and dispose of them properly, ideally after dousing them with water.
9. Install Smoke Alarms
Fires can happen anytime, so it’s good to have smoke alarms in place to alert you when a fire breaks out.
When a smoke alarm rings, it’s not yet too late. There’s still a lot to do. However, depending on the situation, smoke alarms sometimes do nothing but announce impending doom.
In such situations, it’ll give you a little peace of mind to have a contingency plan like fire insurance to protect yourself financially in the aftermath of a fire.
10. Get a Fire Extinguisher
Having a fire extinguisher at home or in the office doesn't directly prevent a fire, but it can surely help stop it from spreading. Using just water to contain a fire isn’t always advisable, as fires caused by electrical problems will just inflict greater damage when put out using a liquid.
When shopping for a fire extinguisher, look for one with Philippine Standard (PS) License and Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) marks. Having them means a product is certified to be safe and of acceptable quality.
Inspect your fire extinguisher at least once a year to make sure it’s still working. There shouldn’t be any cracks; the locking pin should be in place; and the handle should still be safely lodged in its position. If you find any defect, confirm with an expert if your fire extinguisher is still good or if you already need a new one.
Prevention is the best fire safety measure. Following these fire prevention tips in the workplace and at home can help make your environment safe from hazards.
Hopefully, you never find yourself in a situation where you’ll need to use your fire insurance. But it’s undeniable that having insurance takes a lot of stress out of the equation. There are other options for non-life insurance in the Philippines that you can consider to ease your financial burden after an untoward incident like a fire.