March is considered one of the hottest months of the year in the Philippines and it marks the beginning of the summer season.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), temperature in March start to reach higher levels, that is why every area across the country becomes prone to conflagration, especially the highly populated areas in the cities and provinces.
In fact, according to the data collected by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), March is the month that has one of the highest fire incidents in the country, which is why March is declared as the Fire Prevention Month.
Also known as “Burn Prevention Month”, the Fire Prevention Month was observed by virtue of Proclamation No. 360 in 1986 to promote “safety consciousness among our people every day of the year as a positive preventive approach to a problem that can be solved by more caution, vigilance, sobriety, exercise of common sense and respect for the law.”
Fire incidents are potentially deadly and very dangerous, but it’s true what they say: forewarned is forearmed. By following these safety precautions from the BFP, you can be knowledgeable on how to avoid the occurrence of fires and you can keep yourselves and your family safe:
1.) Unplug all electrical equipment when not in use and regularly check electrical equipment to avoid overloading of electrical circuits. Also, avoid octopus connection as those can cause overloading as well.
When using cooking gas, check for gas leaks and always ensure that the LPG tank is stored in a well-ventilated area to avoid the accumulation of gas vapors.
It will also help if you will keep a fire extinguisher near the kitchen and have it checked yearly. Learn how to use it in case of kitchen fires.
2.) As much as possible, enforce a “No Smoking” policy inside or outside the house and dispose of cigarette butts properly. Never drop a burning cigarette in the trashcan.
3.) Practice proper housekeeping and keep flammable materials out of reach of children. Flammable materials include candles, lighters, and matches, which should be kept properly and securely in a locked cabinet out of sight and reach of children. Always remind the children that they are tools for adults, not toys.
4.) Plan ahead–establish an emergency and evacuation plan at home and familiarize with escape routes. When planning for a fire escape route, involve the children.
Choose a meeting place outside the home where everyone will gather, and be sure they know never to go back inside a burning building.
Practice using your escape route in family fire drills at least twice a year. Practice what it would be like to escape through smoke by getting down on hands and knees and crawling below the smoke to the nearest exit. Cooler air will be near the floor.
Once kids have mastered the plan, hold a drill while everyone is sleeping. This will let you know if they will wake up or sleep through the smoke alarm. Even those who wake up may be groggy or move slowly.
5.) In case of fire, close the door of the burning area to stop the spread of fire. As smoke rises up, breathe slowly, and get a piece of wet cloth to cover the nose and mouth to avoid suffocation.
6.) When trapped in a fire hit area, it is highly recommended to go to a room with windows leading outdoors.
7.) If clothes catch fire, do not run or panic. Instead, do the: “Stop, Drop, and Roll to put out the flames and avoid serious burns. Teach this also to children who are old enough to understand. In this life-threatening situation, shout for help or wave a cloth outside the window to alert the people around you and keep in mind to remain calm.
9.) The most important thing to do is to call 911, the nationwide emergency hotline number, and tell the emergency operator of your location right away. Remember to get out first if there is a fire, then call for help once safely outside.
The BFP also encourages everyone to get involved and actively participate in fire drills conducted by barangays, schools, place of employment, and local government units because it gives everyone the chance to rehearse proper evacuation procedures during fire incidents.
In case of fires, it is imperative to keep in mind that having the presence of mind, just like in any crisis, can spell the difference between being a victim and being a fire survivor.