This New Year’s Eve did not go as planned. Having direct view of Burj Khlaifa, the tallest building in the world, we celebrated with friends at home and were excited to see some spectacular fireworks.
At around 10:00 pm, my mom questioned her eyesight. “Is that building over there really on fire?” The first message appeared on my phone: “Has the Address Hotel caught fire?” One of the most beautiful buildings in Downtown Dubai stood on fire!
Over the next hours, we were shocked and scared by how quickly the flames took over 63 floors and watched the news to understand what was going on. It was not what we expected.
When the New Year rang in, it was bizarre to watch the fireworks on the left and the burning building on the right.
This night made me realise how fortunate I am but it also made me revisit our safety. What can you do to prevent fires?
Looking at your home, there’s a lot that can be done to prevent residential fires.
Open fire sources
- Watch what’s on your stove or in the oven. Keeping kitchen towels too close to the stove or knocked over pots and frying pans can easily ignite a fire.
- Properly clean and maintain your oven, stove, deep fat fryers, BBQ grill, fire pit and other heat producing equipment you have at home.
- You’ve heard it before: Never leave a candle unattended. Watch your children and your pets around candles
- Keep matches and lighters away from children and from sources of heat.
- If you’re using space heaters, ensure that they are kept away from anything which can burn including curtains and blankets.
- If you keep fuel at home (e.g. an oil tank to heat your home), store it in a safe and appropriate way. If you’re unsure, ask your provider.
- Store petrol for your lawnmower or other motor-operator devices in strong, metal-safety-type cans with self-closing caps on the opening.
- Keep flammable materials including oil-based interior paint away from heat sources.
- If you smoke, ensure you’ve extinguished the butts completely.
- Don’t throw hot ashes into your rubbish.
- Don’t smoke in bed.
- Ensure your electrical appliances are protected against overheating.
- Plug large appliances directly into the wall plug.
- Check your extension cords for overusage.
- Don’t run extension cords underneath carpets, rugs or behind curtains.
- Turn off appliances after use and before going to bed.
- Dust and de-clog your appliances.
- Clean the lint tray in your dryer before or after each use.
- Use a qualified/certified contractor for electrical installations and re-wiring in your home.
- Check for rodent damage. Their little teeth can chew through cables leaving the wires blank and exposed to sparks leading to ignition of fires.
- Set up smoke detectors. Consider where a fire could break out. Fires in unnoticed areas like the basement or attic poise severe risks. Keep a detector in these areas, too.
- Regularly replace the battery (e.g. when transitioning to/from day light saving’s time).
- Test the smoke detectors regularly (e.g. monthly).
- Be aware that kids will sleep through fire alarms.
- Plan different escape routes, depending on the location of the fire, from your home to the outside.
- Consider any family members with disabilities (e.g. mobility-impaired or wheelchair users, deaf or hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted) when planning your escape route. Determine who will assist them.
- You can draw your escape plan on this template provided by Sparky.
- Use a safety torch to guide you. Check its batteries regularly.
- Practice an evacuation with all family members and anyone else living with you.
During a fire
- Invest in a portable extinguisher and a fire blanket and learn how to use them. If you live in a large home, get some for each floor. Keep them in easy reach and get them serviced regularly.
- Only use a fire extinguishers on small fires. This is not the time to play hero or take chances.
- On your way out of the building, check the doors before opening them. If the door (not the knob) is hot, choose a different escape route.
- Don’t go back inside for any reason. Leave personal belongings behind.
- Call for help.
- Should your clothing catch fire, stop, drop to the floor and roll to extinguish the flames with your body weight.
- In dense smoke, cover your mouth with a moist towel and crawl on the floor to the nearest exit. The lower you are to the floor, the easier breathing in these difficult times will be.
Set your home up to prevent a residential fire. It’s easier than to fight a fire and can save lives. What preventions do you take? What do you do to prepare yourself, your family and your home in case of a fire? I’d love to hear your comments.
Until next time,