Fire Safety Guide


Did you know that more than 2,500 people die every year in fire related incidents? According to the National Fire Protection Association(NFPA), more than 1,240,000 fire incidents were reported in 2013 alone, leading to over $11.5 billion in losses, and over 15,000 injuries.

What makes a fire deadly may not only be the fire but also the toxic fumes it releases. These fumes contain a lethal mix of Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Sulfide and Hydrogen Cyanide. Information provided by the US Fire Administration confirms that hazardous fumes are the leading cause of deaths in residential fires.Whether you live in an apartment, a 2 storey flat, or own a large mansion, protecting your family and property from fire hazards is crucial.

It would be unwise to compromise the safety of your loved ones by not taking the necessary steps. Most fires that erupt in residential buildings could be prevented. So it is important that you take precautionary measures to lower the risk of a fire outbreak in your home. Here are some common sources where fire can originate:

  • Electrical circuits -Wiring
  • Heating and kitchen appliances- Portable heaters, Stoves, Iron
  • Burning cigarettes and lighters
  • Overloaded extension cords
  • Combustible Appliances – Electrical Charging Equipment

Effective Fireproofing Methods

Now that you have a brief idea of hazardous materials and appliances that may cause a fire, you can start taking the necessary steps to fireproof your home.

  1. Install a Smoke Alarm

    Every house, no matter how big or small, must have at least one smoke alarm. This device can give you a heads up in case of a fire and are known to lower risk by 50%. Most modern homes come with smoke alarms installed. According to guidelines provided by US Fire Administration, smoke alarms should be installed on all floors of a building. These must be checked with batteries replaced regularly. As smoke alarms are designed to detect smoke rising in your home, they should be placed high on the walls and on the ceilings. The ideal place, according to some industry experts, would be 12 inches from the ceiling on the wall. Smoke alarms should be installed in bedrooms, kitchens (away from the stove), on top of the stairs and living rooms.

  2. Fire Extinguishers

    Fire extinguishers are active fire protection devices, meaning they are used in case of small concentrated fires in emergency situations. These are divided into different classes and are used for different types of fire.

    • Class A – Ordinary combustible materials such as paper, cardboard, wood and plastic
    • Class B – Used on liquids like gasoline, kerosene and oil
    • Class C – Used for fire related to electrical appliances. These include wiring, circuit breakers, outlets etc
    • Class D – Used for combustible metals like magnesium, sodium, potassium. Commonly used in laboratories
    • Class K – These are used in fires that involve cooking oils, trans fat oils. Usually installed in restaurants

    Before deciding on a fire extinguisher, it is important to check the classification. Some fire extinguishers may be a combination of the above mentioned classes.

    Important Note: Fire Extinguishers need to be inspected by qualified personal regularly to make sure they are in perfect working condition.

  3. Fire Sprinklers

    These devices are connected to a water system in a building. Part of a fire sprinkler system, water is discharged when a specific temperature is exceeded. Sprinkler heads, as they are sometimes called, are usually installed on ceilings. These devices may typically trigger at 68 Celsius and all of these do not activate at the same time. Only the ones where the temperature exceeds become activated.

In addition to the methods discussed above, precautions are necessary as well. Mentioned below are some of the methods that are necessary in order to avoid a fire outbreak.

Avoid Overloading Extension Cords

Many fires are caused by overloading electrical outlets. It is recommended that you do not plug more than two appliances on the same electrical outlet together. When going out, make sure you check all the outlets before leaving and avoid plugging heavy appliances such as refrigerators or air conditioners on the same circuit.

Be careful with Indoor Smoking

According to FEMA, approximately 9,000 residential fires are caused due to smoking indoor every year. If you or anyone in your family smokes, make sure that all cigarettes and lighters are kept away from the reach of children. Keep lit cigarettes away from flammable material and use deep ash-trays. Try to avoid smoking inside your house altogether, if possible.

Cook Safely

Did you know that cooking is the leading cause of residential fires? When you are cooking, never leave a lit stove unattended. You should also keep certain flammable materials away from the stove. These include mitts, aprons, wooden spoons etc.

Fireproof your furniture and carpet

It is now possible to get furniture and carpets coated with fireproof chemical. Fireproof sprays are available in the market and could be applied on wood, fabric, paper and thatch. The coating is designed to prevent the starting of fire and slow down the process of combustion.

Have an Escape Plan

No matter how many precautions you take, always have an exit you can easily access. It is always wise to have an escape plan in place for yourself and your family. You must figure out safe exit routes for each room in your home. Make sure you practice fire drills with your family every once in a while and teach your kids about the dangers of fire.

Fire! What should you do Now?

If a fire has erupted in your home, don’t panic; rather take the necessary steps to avoid loss and damage of any kind. You may not be able to save your belongings in a fire, but you can save your family and yourself by keeping your head. Here are some points that may help:

  • Do not enter smoke-filled rooms or any room where fire has erupted
  • Keep your face protected from fumes to avoid inhalation – Use a damp cloth to cover your nose and mouth
  • If the smoke has begun to spread- crawl to the nearest exit. Smoke always rises, by hitting the ground; you’ll have access to relatively breathable air.
  • Do not open doors that are warm to touch.
  • If you are trapped in a room, go to the window and signal for help
  • Call 911 as soon as you suspect a fire outbreak and do not enter the building unless cleared by the authorities.
  • Speak clearly when giving out the location to the Fire Department over the phone.
  • Do not collect your personal belongings in case of a fire. Look for the nearest fire exit and exit immediately.

However, in some circumstances, you can actually help put out a fire.  Mentioned below are some precautions you must take.

  • If it’s a stove fire, turn off the gas and if it’s in a pot, cover the lid. By cutting off the oxygen, you could help contain fire
  • If your clothes catch on fire. Stop, drop and roll on the ground. Cover your face with your hands for protection.
  • Do not tackle electrical fires on your own. Exit and call the fire department.
  • Do not tackle or fight fire if you don’t have the proper equipment. You might put your and others life in danger.
  • When using a Fire Extinguisher, always aim at the base of the fire and use a sweeping motion to put out the fire.
  • Never use water to extinguish electrical or grease fire.

The purpose behind this guide is to cover information that can essentially be the difference between life and death. In case of a fire, the first thing to do is Not Panic. By taking precautions and keeping your head, you can avoid a potential tragedy.

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