Hazard analysis, risk reduction and good old commonsense must be seen as priorities this Christmas!
Safety, and in this context fire safety, has to be a conscious, deliberate and proactive choice. Lack of money may cause persons not to pay enough attention to carrying out the necessary house repairs and to persist in using defective or faulty electrical equipment and reusing Christmas lights and other electrical decorations which are worn.
In any case, these factors will create more hazards at this time of the year. Added to these are the increases in personal and social activities which can have a negative impact on one???s health through impairment and deprivation as well as reduce the time to fulfill other obligations.
In some of these circumstances some individuals still make the ill-advised decision to try to do many chores such as cooking, and ironing and perhaps put themselves in too comfortable a position and smoke a cigarette. Again these factors may place lives in jeopardy and are anti-safety, life threatening actions.
Consequently, diligence and discipline are advised. Homeowners, please weigh the consequences of your actions which could devastate and disrupt your own life, that of your family and relatives and perhaps that of your neighbours.
While it may be true that every plan and our best intentions may have flaws it will not hurt if each home owner this year makes the decision to install at least one smoke alarm and a minimum one kilogram ABC dry powder extinguisher. If you are cooking or baking, remember to turn the stove off when you are tired or feeling unwell.
The Barbados Fire Service is very cognisant of the fact that not every negative event is intentional. You are nonetheless encouraged to be cautious, vigilant and determined to have the safest and most pleasurable Christmas ever. This can be achieved by observing the following fire safety tips:
??? Pay attention to electrical maintenance, natural gas and liquid petroleum gas pipe work and equipment, and the storage of solvents, resins, other flammable materials and household chemicals.
??? Do not overload electrical sockets.
??? Unplug all non-essential appliances when leaving home
??? Follow the manufacturer???s recommendations when streaming lights.
??? Unplug lights when no one is at home
??? Do not leave open flames unsupervised.
??? Keep infants and toddlers out of the kitchen.
??? Keep matches and lighters away from children.
??? Do not leave children alone and unattended.
??? Keep live Christmas trees well watered.
??? Do not attempt to cook if you have been drinking, taking medication which will make you sleepy or if you are tired.
??? Install a smoke alarm just outside of the kitchen and in the bedroom corridors
??? Store chemicals and flammable substances outside of the house in a well-ventilated area
??? Do not place candles near curtains or other combustible materials.
??? Do not smoke in bed or while lying down in a sofa
??? Place cigarette ends in a deep ashtray with water
??? Check the pressing iron and stove before you leave home
The intent of these instructions is to ensure your safety as a first priority and help us to achieve our annual target of a ten per cent reduction in private dwelling house fires. There has been a consistent reduction in private dwelling house fires.
The fact that the percentage increase in total fires is not significantly high is a point for consideration not complacency. This is why the appeal still goes out to the general public to remain on guard because there is much ground to be covered in reducing grass fires and others.
On behalf of the administration and all other members of the Barbados Fire Service, I take this opportunity to wish all citizens and all those who are visiting and working in our economic space, a very safe and peaceful Christmas season as well as good health and happiness for 2014.
Chief Fire Officer