Fire in a house or office could be dangerous if burns seriously. When it comes to fire safety, make sure your home or workplace is prepared with the fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers are used as a precaution for smaller or containable fires. Extinguishers can help to put them out or to mitigate a more serious situation until the fire department arrives.
And, of course, if the fire is significant, your first priority should be to evacuate your home or office immediately and wait for firefighters outside.
Poor maintenance and incorrect usage of fire extinguishers in the home are two key reasons small house fires can spread endangering lives and causing considerable damage to property. House fires can be brought under control within the first few minutes of ignition if attended to correctly with an extinguisher that is well maintained, which can buy valuable time before the Fire Services arrive.
HERE’S A CHECKLIST OF WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
If there is a fire, the first thing to do is yell ‘Fire!’ as loudly as possible to alert your co-workers. Often employees think it may be a drill and lose precious moments for evacuation.
-Locate a fire extinguisher and pull the fire alarm switch. The two should be located close to each other.
If you know where the mains are, immediately switch them off.
Remember that hot air rises while cold air sinks. So, if there is smoke, stay low to the ground as this will reduce your exposure.
-If visibility is low, keep your hand on the wall so that you do not lose your way.
-Crawl to the nearest exit or staircase. Never take the elevator when there is a fire, no matter what floor you are on.
-Sure you were almost done with your important project, but really, just let it go. It’s not worth it.
Always feel doors before entering a room. If the door or handle is hot, do not enter the room.
-If your clothes happen to catch fire: Drop and roll on the ground till the flames subside.
HOW TO OPERATE A FIRE EXTINGUISHER :
There are a number of different types of portable fire extinguishers, each can be identified by the colour coding and labelling. Check that the extinguisher you intend to use is suitable for the type of fire encountered eg a water extinguisher must never be used on any fire involving electrical equipment.
There are four (4) basic steps for using modern portable fire extinguishers.
When extinguishing a fire, you should PASS:.
Pull pin at the top of the extinguisher, breaking the seal. When in place, the pin keeps the handle from being pressed and accidentally operating the extinguisher. Immediately test the extinguisher. (Aiming away from the operator) This is to ensure the extinguisher works and also shows the operator how far the stream travels
Approach the fire standing at a safe distance. Aim the nozzle or outlet towards the base of the fire
Squeeze the handles together to discharge the extinguishing agent inside. To stop discharge, release the handles.
Sweep the nozzle from side to side as you approach the fire, directing the extinguishing agent at the base of the flames. After an A Class fire is extinguished, probe for smouldering hot spots that could reignite the fuel.
Anyone who is likely to use the fire fighting equipment should be trained on how to use it and its basic fire-fighting techniques. It is also essential that the right type of extinguisher is used for the fire.
HOW TO USE A FIRE EXTINGUISHER
Once you understand the different types of fire extinguishers and their uses, you need to be able to properly operate one.
The best way to be ready for a fire emergency in your home is to study the steps below and review them regularly so you can protect your home and family.
- Identify a clear exit/escape route
Before operating the fire extinguisher, make sure you have a clear evacuation path. If you cannot put out the fire, you’ll need to make a safe exit. Consider this when determining where to store your fire extinguisher, and make sure you’ll have multiple exit options nearby after you retrieve it.
- Stand back
Face the fire and keep your back to the clear exit you earlier identified. You should stay between six and eight feet away from the flames as you prepare to operate the fire extinguisher.
- Discharge extinguisher
It can be difficult to think clearly during an emergency, so fire safety has a long-standing acronym to help you recall the steps involved in operating your fire extinguisher.
IF A FIRE STARTS:
- Know how to safely operate a fire extinguisher
- Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL your local emergency phone number.
- Yell “Fire!” several times and go outside right away. If you live in a building with elevators, use the stairs. Leave all your things where they are and save yourself.
- 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.
- If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit. Close doors behind you.
- 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 or 9-1-1. Open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.
- 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.
IF YOUR CLOTHES CATCH ON FIRE:
- STOPwhat you’re doing.
- DROPto the ground and cover your face if you can.
- ROLLover and over or back and forth until the flames go out. Running will only make the fire burn faster.
Once the flames are out, cool the burned skin with water for three to five minutes. Call for medical attention.
IF TRAPPED IN A ROOM :
Retreat. Close as many doors as possible between you and the fire. Seal cracks around the door to prevent smoke from entering. If you have a working phone, Dial Local Emergency Number and report the name of your building or address, the room number, and the fact that you are trapped and need to be rescued. Stay on the phone until the fire department arrives at your room.
Be prepared to signal from a window but DO NOT BREAK THE GLASS unless absolutely necessary (outside smoke may be drawn in). Open the window a few inches for fresh air and hang a brightly colored cloth or bed sheet out the window to alert the Fire Department to your location. If you have a flashlight, use it to signal at night.
If you are trapped on the upper floors of a tall building:
- Put a wet cloth under closed doors to help prevent the spread of smoke.
- If you have a working phone, call emergency number and report the name of your building or address, the room number, and the fact that you are trapped and need to be rescued. Stay on the phone until the fire department arrives at your room.
- If you must escape through a window and there is no adjoining roof or fire escape, hang from the window by your hands and drop to the ground to shorten the height of the fall.
- If you must break a window to crawl out, use a chair, a drawer, or a similar object. Throw a blanket over the windowsill to help protect you from broken glass while crawling out.
IF CAUGHT IN SMOKE :
Drop to hands and knees and crawl or crouch low with head 30″ to 36″ above the floor, watching the base of the wall as you go. Avoid crawling on your belly, because heavier toxic gases can settle and form a thin layer on the floor. Hold your breath as much as possible and breathe shallowly through your nose using your blouse or shirt as a filter.
If you are forced to advance through flames:
- Hold your breath. Move quickly, covering head and hair. Keep head down and close eyes as often as possible.
- If clothing catches fire, stop where you are. Drop to the ground, and cover your mouth and face with your hands to protect them from the flames. Then roll over and over to smother the fire.
Assemble at the area designated in your departmental Emergency Action Plan, if applicable, and remain there until instructed by a public safety officer or the fire department that it is safe to re-enter the building. If there is no designated assembly point, maintain a safe distance from the building to allow ample room for emergency personnel and equipment to access the building. Dial Local Emergency Number from a safe place and report the nature and location of the fire. Follow directions of emergency personnel, if present. Do not go back inside the building until instructed by a public safety officer.
IF YOU ENCOUNTER A SMALL FIRE :
A small fire is defined as wastebasket-size or smaller. Under special conditions, small fires can be extinguished before there is a full evacuation, if you have been trained and feel comfortable using an extinguisher. The fire must be truly small and controllable and you need both the right fire extinguisher and knowledge of how to use it. NEVER ENTER A SMOKE-FILLED ROOM, even if it looks free of fire. In any case, constantly evaluate and be ready to evacuate if the fire cannot be easily controlled. Under all circumstances:
- Alert people in the area.
- Activate the fire alarm.
- Maintain an accessible exit.
- Avoid smoke and fumes.
- Smother the fire or use the correct fire extinguisher. Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire. Only trained personnel should use fire extinguishers. Use fire extinguisher on small fires ONLY if it is safe to do so; otherwise GET OUT.
- Remain available to answer questions from public safety officers or the fire department.
- Report all fires to a super
- Report all fires to Supervisor.
DON’T BE A SPECTATOR :
If you see a building on fire, don’t just stop and stare. Your immediate action can help save someone’s lives. Here’s what you should do:
• Call the fire department. Don’t assume someone already has
• Make way for ambulances and fire engines on the road. They have right of way
• Try to dissuade other civilians from entering the premises. This is very important since they might not be thinking rationally if they have loved ones ..
HIGH RISE APARTMENTS :
If you live in a high rise apartment, there are a few added things you should know in case there is a fire in your building:
- Learn your building’s evacuation plans. Know the location of fire alarms, and learn how to use them. Post emergency numbers for the fire department (911) near all telephones.
- If your building has a public-address system, listen carefully and follow instructions.
- Never take an elevator when leaving a burning building. Instead, go directly to the nearest fire- and smoke-free stairway.
- If you cannot get to a fire stairway, go to a room with an outside window.
- If there is a working phone, Dial Emergency Numberand report where you are. Do this even if you can see fire trucks on the street below.
- Stay where rescuers can see you through the window, and wave a light-colored cloth such as a hand towel to attract their attention.
- If possible, open the window at the top and bottom. Be ready to shut the window quickly if smoke rushes in.
- You may need to be patient – the rescue of occupants of a high-rise building can take as much as several hours.