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 gasses 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 own sake.
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 10 Fire Prevention Tips to Remember?
Here are 10 fire safety tips that you can follow to secure your home or workplace:
1. Avoid Electrical Overloading
This is one of the most important fire safety reminders that you shouldn’t overlook. It’s easy to brush it off when you do it once and nothing bad happens. But overloading your circuits is actually a big fire hazard. As much as possible, avoid piggybacking multiple devices on one plugging strip to prevent sockets from overheating and catching fire.
Big appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners should also have dedicated outlets to make sure that electrical overloading won’t be a problem.
Also, practice unplugging your devices and appliances when not in use. Whether you’re just going to bed for a few hours or leaving your home or workplace for an extended period, it’s good practice to always unplug.
2. Check Electrical Connections for Faulty Wiring
Faulty electrical wiring can cause a fire when flammable and combustible materials are introduced into the picture. To prevent a fire incident, have a licensed electrician periodically check your appliances for exposed or worn wires.
Even on your own, you can easily spot some of the warning signs of damaged wiring, including out-of-place flickers and the smell of something burnt. When you spot frayed wires, damaged sockets, or defective electrical equipment, have them fixed or replaced immediately.
3. Ensure Safety in the Kitchen
You can never get too many fire safety tips in the kitchen. This space can be a fire hazard all on its own if not properly maintained.
Whatever you do in the kitchen, don’t leave an open stove unattended. If you have to exit the room, make sure someone else can watch the fire for you. But if there’s no one to delegate that task to, just turn off the stove altogether until you can attend to it again. You can also opt to bring an alarm or timer with you to serve as a reminder that there’s something cooking in the other room.
Another fire safety tip is to not lean over open flames when wearing loose clothing lest it catches fire. On the same note, keep your cooking area free of combustible objects like potholders and towels.
Lastly, if you’re 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, one of the most important safety tips for fire prevention that you must take to heart is to always close your liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) after use. Also, constantly check it for leaks or damages 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 enough to do but are still somehow ignored.
It’s common for Filipinos to light candles 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 the candles can’t be accidentally tipped over.
It’s also logical to keep your candles away from things that can catch fire, including curtains, carpets, bedsheets, and paper.
For better fire safety, an alternative light source during a power outage is a rechargeable lamp or flashlight as it presents no distinct fire risks.
6. Remove Potential Fire Hazards
This tip has been alluded to throughout this guide, but it still deserves a section of its own.
To be fair, not all fire hazards are blatantly noticeable. A pile of leaves in your front yard looks harmless enough until extreme heat turns it into an unintentional bonfire.
Sometimes, what sets off a fire is random: a stack of old newspapers, a mound of empty plastic bottles, a clump of overgrown shrubs.
As a fire incident is sometimes hard to foresee, some people plan their future with that variable in mind. 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 wise approach to prepare for things you can’t anticipate.
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 general living conditions.
As a rule of thumb, keep aisles, walkways, and stairways clear of any trash and loose objects. 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 when the need arises.
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 designed to prevent fires.
Smoking in bed, especially, should be avoided at all costs. Fabrics and paddings 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 during the day—and even at night—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 you can do. However, depending on the gravity of 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 secure your properties in the aftermath of a fire.
10. Keep a Fire Extinguisher Within Reach
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.
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 way to fight a fire. Following these fire prevention tips in the workplace and at home can help make your environment safe from fire risks.
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 invest in. Try to explore them as well and learn how to protect your assets.