By Dcn Nnamdi
WHY ELECTRICAL & FIRE SAFETY?
- Electricity can seem like a miracle – flip a switch and you have light, heat or entertainment but it can also lead to tragedy – fire, death, etc.
- The Electrical Safety Foundation International reports that
- Internationally an average of 67,000 home fires occur every year
- 485 fatalities (deaths), more than 2,300 injuries, and
- Property damage of over $1.4 billion
These figures would have appreciated in the last two years
- Awareness brings change. Awareness is the greatest agent for change
COMPONENTS OF FIRE TRIANGLE
- Three things must be present at the same time to produce a fire
- Enough heat to raise the fuel to its ignition temperature
- Some sort of fuel or combustible material
- Enough oxygen to sustain combustion
- These three components put together form what is called the Fire Triangle
INGREDIENTS OF FIRE
- A heat source is required for the initial ignition
- Fuel is any combustible material in the right quantity and arrangement
- Oxygen is abundant in the air. Air contains about 21% oxygen and fires require just 16% oxygen to be sustained.
Fire safety, at its most basic, is based upon the principle of keeping fuel sources and ignition sources separate.
FIRE RELATED DOS AND DON’TS
- Do keep matches and lighters away from children
- Children have a natural curiosity about fire and are tempted to play with matches or lighters left within their reach
- Such plays are a leading cause of home fires and one in which the children and others present are often hurt
- Even though they have a natural curiosity about fire, children may become frightened and confused in a fire and hide rather than escape to safety; especially if they started the fire.
- Small children below five years of age are more prone to do this
- Kids should be taught to tell adults if they notice any funny smells or see sparks from appliances, especially from those that are plugged in most of the time such as refrigerators or television sets
- Do refuel generators and stoves only after they have cooled. Hot state may become an ignition source
- Do not use cell phones when refilling fuels on generators or in filling stations. Cell phone may become an ignition source in that kind of environment
- Do properly store and handle flammable and combustible liquids / materials
- Do use approved containers for storage of flammable or combustible liquids
- Do not use plastic kegs to store flammable or combustible liquids. Static electricity may generate when transferring flammable liquids and this may cause fire.
A SAFETY CAN
- A safety can is an approved container for storage of flammable or combustible liquids.
- It has a self-closing lid, internal-pressure relief and flame arrestor with a capacity of not more than 5 gallons
- There are many types of safety cans available in the market today
CAUSES OF ELECTRICAL FIRES
Electricity causes fires by providing the initial heat/ignition source
- Poor Hazard Identification: the most frequent cause of fires
- A hazard is a condition that is a prerequisite to an accident or incident such as a fire incident
- Generally these unsafe conditions are present in homes and offices such as wires crossing each other, broken electrical socket outlets and appliances, etc
- Early identification and taking prompt action to do away with such conditions saves situations.
- Normalization of Deviation
- Closely related to poor hazard identification
- Tolerating what is outside the norms
- You know the condition is not normal, but you have taken it to be normal and continue to live with it until it causes an incident, possibly fire.
- Short Circuit in Electrical Systems
- A short circuit occurs when a live wire touches the earth or neutral wire, energizing the circuit.
- If the circuit is fused correctly, this will blow the fuse, cutting off power to the circuit.
- In cases where the circuit is not correctly fused, the electricity will continue to pass through the wires and they will overheat.
- If combustible material is near the overheated wires, the heat can be sufficient to start a fire.
- Substandard Materials
- Below what is considered standard, normal, or acceptable
- Faulty Electrical Wires / Bad Wiring:
- Faulty power outlets and old wiring throughout the home
- Electrical fires also result when electric cords are sequestered beneath rugs, preventing heat from escaping normally
- Faulty Electrical Appliances
- Faulty stoves, ovens and heaters that rely on electricity for power
- When appliances are not in use, they should be turned off at the source, and if practical to do so, unplug them.
- Bad plugs or frayed wires are fire hazards and should be replaced by a qualified technician
- Overloaded Circuit
- Electrical wiring is rated as to its current carrying capacity.
- However, sometimes a circuit is overloaded, which means more current is being drawn through the wires than it is capable of handling safely.
- Ordinarily, the circuit breaker or fuse protecting the circuit should trip or rupture.
- If this does not happen, the overload situation creates heat that could ignite nearby combustible materials and cause a fire.
ELECTRICAL DOS AND DON’TS
- Do not overload electrical circuits
- Do keep electrical appliances clean. Ensure to unplug before cleaning
- Do not patronize substandard materials
- Do replace worn, frayed or damaged extension cords and appliances
- Do not keep cords where they may be pinched or pose a tripping or fire hazard
- Do use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to protect circuits and personnel
Fire extinguishers are used to put out fire at the incipient stage of the fire. When fire goes beyond the incipient stage, please call the Fire Service
- Fire extinguishers put out fire by taking away one or more elements of the fire triangle
- Pictograph label tells classifications of fire the extinguisher is designed to fight and the instructions to operate the fire extinguisher
- Use PASS method to extinguish the fire:
P – Pull the pin on the extinguisher;
A – Aim at the base of the fire;
S – Squeeze the handle; and
S – Sweep at the fire, moving from side to side
CARE OF FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
- Inspection is a quick check that an extinguisher is available and will operate
- Extinguishers should be inspected monthly, and the following items shall be checked:
- The extinguisher shall be in its designated place.
- Access to, or visibility of the extinguisher is not obstructed.
- The operation instructions on the extinguisher nameplate shall be legible and face outward.
- Any obvious physical damage, corrosion, leakage, or clogged nozzles shall be noted.
- Pressure-gauge readings when not in the operable range shall be noted.
- Install smoke alarm in your homes and ensure they are in good working conditions.
- It is an inexpensive protection for you, your family and your valuables
- Working smoke alarms can double your chances of survival as they provide early warning of fire, especially at night when people are most vulnerable.
- Smoke alarms in place have saved thousands of lives.
- Most victims of fire succumb to the smoke and toxic gases and not to burns.
- Fire produces poisonous gases that clouds thinking and slows reactions so that they cannot make their escape
- It is so crucial for you and your family to have sufficient warning so that you can all escape before your ability to think and move is impaired
- Smoke alarms can only warn of danger.
- You must then take action to escape, and unless you act quickly and effectively, the warning time provided by alarms could be wasted.
CARE OF SMOKE ALARMS
- Smoke alarms need no special maintenance
- Test smoke alarms at the least quarterly
- Keep it free of dust and cobwebs
- For battery operated ones, replace battery at least once a year
- Smoke alarm comes with a homeowner manual
SOME SAFETY SLOGANS
- Carelessness is the biggest cause of fire
- Whatever burns never returns
- out quick, before the smoke gets thick!
- Protecting your family from fire is good business