How to Prevent Fires
Do not keep gasoline in or near domestic areas.
Do not buy or keep gasoline or other highly inflammable liquids in breakable containers.
Do not leave inflammable liquids carelessly placed at home or in immediate reach of children.
Do not leave open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, in the reach of children. If possible, avoid using candles, especially when there are children in the house. Never allow children to use matches, nor leave them within their reach.
Do not leave electric irons, hot plates or other appliances plugged in as over heating can cause fire.
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Raise an alarm to warn others of the emergency.
On suspicion of fire, get children and helpless persons out of the building immediately.
Get out of the building immediately.
Do not get back into the burning building. You may not come out alive.
If you are trapped in the building, lie flat on the ground and try to creep out; the air is clearer near the floor.
Call the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) at 110.
No matter where you live or work, be familiar with all exits, including windows.
Remember to turn off gas connections and electricity.
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Conduct Fire Drills Regularly
Fire drills enable us to react quickly and sensibly when confronted with a fire emergency or bomb threat and we need to empty a crowded building quickly. Fire drills should be practiced at home, schools and the office. These drills should be practiced using all possible alternate safe routes that lead to open air and safety.
Steps in Planning a Fire Drill
The sequence for a fire drill is:
Alarm → Evacuation → Assembly → Head Count (roll call) → Debrief
The function of the alarm signal is to warn everyone in the building that a state of emergency has arisen and that they are to leave the building at once. Where two or more departments or homes occupy the same building, there should be complete co-operation between them. The sounding of the fire alarm in any part of the building should be the signal for complete evacuation of the building and not just a part thereof.
Make sure you know the location and sound of the alarm in your building. Smoke detectors should be installed near each sleeping area in the home and in high-risk areas in the office and school compound.
On hearing the fire alarm, persons in charge should immediately instruct their charges to line up to leave orderly fashion. No talking should be allowed so that any instructions given can be heard. Stairways should be descended in single file using the left of the stairway. Never use an elevator. No one should be permitted to overtake during the evacuation as this may start a stampede.
Know at least two ways out of every room in your home, office, or school.
If you live or work in multi-story building, map as many routes as possible to exit stairways on your floor or other floors of the building.
If one of your escape routes is on the second, third or higher story, consider investing in a safety ladder.
If the door leaving your room is cool to the touch, open just a crack to check for smoke. If there is none leave by your planned escape routes.
Do not open the door if it feels hot to the touch; use your alternate exit.
Teach small children never to hide under beds or in closets.
Everyone should gather at a pre-determined meeting place outside the home, classroom or office. This meeting place should be well away from the building. Each group of persons should set up a pre-arranged position and stand in a compact group. Once outside, stay outside! Never risk life in an attempt to save personal possessions.
- Head Count (Roll Call):
A head count or roll call should be taken as soon as the group reaches the assembly point. Report the count immediately to the person in charge. Missing persons will be assumed to still be in the building. If anyone is missing inform the fire personnel so a search can be made.
- The Debrief:
On completion of the evacuation drill, spend a few minutes to identify areas of weakness in your existing alarm or evacuation process and ways of improving the factor of safety. Do not forget to secure document.
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Types of Fire Extinguishers
There are four types of fire extinguishers:
- Water extinguishers: these are suitable for Class A fires, but not for Class B, C and D as burning liquids, electrical fires or reactive metal fires. In theses cases the flames may spread or the hazard will be greater.
- Dry chemical extinguishers: these are useful for Class ABC fires and are your best all around choice. They have an advantage over carbon dioxide extinguishers in that they leave a blanket of non- flammable material on the extinguished material, which reduces the likelihood of reignition.
- Carbon dioxide extinguishers: these are for Class B and C fires. They do not work very well on Class A fires because the material usually reignites. Carbon dioxide extinguishers have an advantage over dry chemical in that they leave behind no harmful chemicals. This extinguisher is not for Class D fires.
- Metal/sand extinguishers: these are for flammable metals (Class D fires) and work by simply smothering the fire.
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