While Pag-Asa has yet to declare it, we all feel that summer is just around the corner, and with it comes the month with the most incidences of fires nationwide, hence in the Philippines, March is Fire Prevention Month. Born from Proclamation No. 360 in 1986, Fire Prevention month seeks to “discuss and raise awareness about the causes, hazards and dangers of fire.”
Now before you think that the Philippines is safe from such incidences as the Australian Bush fire of 2019 which razed the entire country, consider this: On the 13th of February, 2020, the Benguet inter-agency task group converged to meet about Forest Fires in their area. In 2019 there were 168 Forest and grass fires, OR a staggering 21 fires monthly. A few days later a 9 day forest fire raged destroying 150 hectares of Pine forest. The fires are not completely out and reports of fire-fighting in Benguet continue to come in as late as February 28. Mt. Pulag has already been closed to give the mountain time to heal given the fires.
So the threat of fire is real, both in the rural and urban areas of our country. The government through the Fire Prevention Month Campaign hopes to promote “Safety consciousness… every day of the year as a positive preventive approach to a problem addressed by being more cautious, vigilant, and with the exercise of common sense and respect for the law.”
FIRE PREVENTION TIPS:
To help prevent fires and to help ensure the safety of friends and family during a fire, the Bureau of Fire Prevention recommends the following:
- Unplug all electrical Equipment when not in use and regularly check electrical equipment to avoid overloading of electrical circuits.
- When using cooking gas, check for gas leaks and always ensure that the LPG Tank is in a well-ventilated area to avoid the accumulation of gas vapors.
- Enforce “No Smoking” policy inside or outside the house and dispose of cigarette butts properly.
- 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.
- Plan ahead–establish an emergency and evacuation plan at home and familiarize with escape routes. And most importantly, keep flammables away from your children
- 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.
- When trapped in a fire hit area, it is highly recommended to go to a room with windows leading outdoors.
- If clothes catch fire, do not run or panic, do the: “Stop, Drop, and Roll.” 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.
- 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.
Fires don’t just burn property, they can take lives, making it a public concern. It is of paramount importance that we keep a keen presence of mind and stay calm during fires. To do this, you need to know what to do. This means you need to participate in fire-drills conducted at the barangay level; or in schools; or where you work. These drills coupled with the correct attitude during a fire can spell the difference between life and death.