Hello beautiful, it is quite cold and dry in Kano. I started writing this piece some days ago and it was interrupted. However, it took experiencing another victim for me to focus and conclude this. You know you matter to me.
So, I was in the emergency department when had to attend to this family that recently moved to Kano. Mr. Kelvin, his wife, three children which included a three month old baby and his mother in law. His mother in law came to Kano for the popular ‘Omugwo’ tradition.
On this fateful night, it happened that it was cold and there was no electricity. It was freezing cold and Mr Kelvin decided to buy some firewood. He made a fire inside the house with all the windows and doors locked. His house however, did not have a chimney; just like most house here. Even in movies, when fires are made inside the house, there is usually a chimney.
Later, his family went to bed and he stepped out of the house. He later returned home and unlocked the door to the rich woody smell of smoke and painful stings in both eyes. Suddenly, saliva rushed to his throat as panic gripped him. He heard someone coughing in one of the rooms and rushed in like a wild animal. He was able to get his family members out and immediately brought them to the hospital. Alas, mother in law was forgotten in the other room. He rushed back home to get her.
I have seen first had the devastation from House Fires! It is Yuletide again and children are home on holiday, too.
House fires are on the rise again here and I would like to suggest tips to prevent house fires. This time, I will address it from the perspective of those I interviewed who have suffered losses from house fires and then suggest prevention of catastrophic consequence of house fires.
We do better when we know better!!
First Things First: We should all try to get fire extinguishers in our homes. They are quite affordable depending on your need. You just never know when one will come in quite handy!!!
Secondly, learn how to use a fire extinguisher!
Thirdly, do not lock up children in the house by themselves. There are many examples of where kids started house fires after being locked up at home. Desist from this practice!
Fourthly, ensure generators are regularly serviced. Ensure there is no leakage of petrol too. I lost a very senior colleague to this. Her generator was leaking and suddenly burst inflames, engulfing her family and her residence.
Fifth, Do not smoke inside the house.
1. Avoid starting a fire with charcoal or firewood in an enclosed house without an outlet for the smoke.
2. Do not use candles indoors. Many who suffered losses drifted off to sleep and the inevitable happened. As a rule, candles are not used in my home.
3. If lanterns are kept lighted overnight, adjust to very low settings. Also, make sure the area it is kept is well ventilated. Many deaths have occurred from carbon monoxide poisoning from this.
4. Ensure gas cylinders are not leaking.
5. Proper use of gas cylinders. These days most tenants keep gas cylinders outside the flats. This is quite commendable. This is because when the fires get to the cylinder it heats up and explodes. Always keep the valve of the gas cylinder locked daily.
6. When the gas cooker knob is turned on, light it immediately. Do not keep the gas escaping or running before finally lighting it. It could end up consuming one.
7. Because it is cold, we don warm clothing. Be cautious while cooking. This is because flame can greedily latch on some parts of the clothes without one realizing it immediately.
8. The use of some household items should be discouraged. I do not use an electric gas cooker because my family escaped a fire accident caused by an electric gas cooker. This is because one can forget to switch it off when electricity is cut off. This is what actually happened in the case of my family.
9. I do not use matches in my home this is because kids could play with it and light up the curtains, etc. I use a lighter instead which is kept away safely.
10. Avoid use of heating agents like boiling rings used in Nigeria. This is because boiling rings does not have a thermostat that helps regulate temperature. Use electric kettles instead. I nearly burnt down our house years ago, following use of boiling ring at home.
11. The bane of beans; as much as possible, cook ‘beans’ during the day. A lot of fires resulted from cooking beans at night when the cook consequently fell asleep.
12. Avoid topping up the petrol tank of the generator while the generator is running.
13. Avoid using ‘torch-light’ phone as light source when topping up the petrol tank of the generator. This applies whether the generator is switched off or running.
14. Always have a look round the house before retiring each nigh
15. Switch off all electric appliances before leaving home.
You could comment and share yours or other peoples’ experiences so we can all learn
NB: Petrol and Liquefied Gas can produce vapours which when it gets in contact with static electricity from any source (phones, nails, metals, etc), will cause a fire. Get your home evaluated for risk of fire hazards!
Stay Warm, Stay Safe!
I love you, I love your health!
Your favourite family physician,