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08 July 2011

Fire prevention starts at home!!

The fire in which several people were killed in an old age home and the recent spate of home fires, made me more conscious about safety in and around the home.  I would like to encourage every household to look at safety in and around the home.  Do you have an emergency evacuation plan for your house, business or work-place?  What will happen if a fire starts in you house while you are asleep at night?  Do you have an early warning system and the necessary equipment to prevent a small fire from spreading?

You do not need a bag of money to acquire elementary fire warning/fighting equipment.  After accessing my current home outlay I decided to purchase a Crowbar, Smoke Alarm and Fire Extinguisher to assist me in getting out alive in the event of a fire in my home.

Now let's look at each item separately:

Crowbar - is a tool consisting of a metal bar with a single curved end and flattened points, often with a small fissure on one or both ends for removing nails.

It is used as a lever either to force apart two objects or to remove nails. Crowbars are commonly used to open nailed wooden crates. Common uses for larger crowbars are: removing nails, prying apart boards, and generally breaking things. Crowbars can be used as any of the three lever classes but the curved end is usually used as a first-class lever, and the flat end as a second class lever.

I will be using the crowbar to break away burglar bars in the event that my family must get out of the house when the fire is blocking normal escaping corridors.

This is a very useful tool to have, not only for breaking things, but also as an improvised weapon.

Normally made of medium-carbon steel they can alternatively be made from titanium, which has the advantages of being lighter, and nonmagnetic.

The least expensive, most common crowbars are forged from hexagonal, or sometimes cylindrical stock. More expensive designs may be forged with an I-shaped cross-section shaft.

Smoke Alarm - The alarm is a smoke detector of the photo cell principle.  This means that the alarm checks the air for smoke resulting from fire.  It does not detect heat, gas or fire.  If the smoke detector is properly mounted and maintained it will sound an alarm in an early stage.  In the event of a fire this can give you those extra seconds needed to vacate your home and either fight the fire with a fire extinguisher or call the fire brigade depending on the extent of the fire.  The alarm is designed to detect smoke. It cannot prevent a fire.

The smoke alarm is battery operated and is equipped with a photoelectric sensor, designed to alert you and your family to the dangers of smoke and fire.  The smoke alarm protects you even during a power failure.  The unit has a test button - test unit's electronic circuitry, horn and battery function.  It also has a low battery indicator, red LED indicator with loud 85 dB alarm.

Always ensure that there is an evacuation plan, discuss this with your family.  Ensure that each room can be left without opening the door, e.g. by the window.  It there is any question as to the cause of the alarm, it should be assumed that the alarm is due to an actual fire and the dwelling evacuated immediately.

The alarm that I installed already showed it's worth recently when a pot of rice burned on the stove.  I can confirm that this unit works as described.

Fire Extinguisher - I have two fire extinguishers in my arsenal - 1kg DCP and 1kg STP

The 1kg DCP and STP extinguishers is a very popular extinguisher among retail consumers. It’s small size makes it easily storable, while it is still recognised as a competent and reliable extinguisher should a small fire threaten.

A fire extinguisher is an active fire protection device used to extinguish or control small fires, often in emergency situations. It is not intended for use on an out-of-control fire, such as one which has reached the ceiling, endangers the user (i.e. no escape route, smoke, explosion hazard, etc.), or otherwise requires the expertise of a fire department. Typically, a fire extinguisher consists of a hand-held cylindrical pressure vessel containing an agent which can be discharged to extinguish a fire.

In the next few months I will be adding some more equipment to ensure the safety of my family in the event of a fire in and around the home.  Lookout for an updated article in this regard.  In the mean time have a look at creating your own evacuation plan if you currently do not have a plan and discuss the plan with your family.  It is your responsibility to prevent a tragedy at your home as a result of a fire.

Important: Fire safety refers to precautions that are taken to prevent or reduce the likelihood of a fire that may result in death, injury, or property damage, alert those in a structure to the presence of a fire in the event one occurs, better enable those threatened by a fire to survive, or to reduce the damage caused by a fire. Fire safety measures include those that are planned during the construction of a building or implemented in structures that are already standing, and those that are taught to occupants of the building.

PLEASE be very safety continuous and take the necessary precautions to prevent fires from starting.