Fire Prevention & Fire Safety Tips

Ugochukwu Ebu

Ugochukwu Ebu
CEO at Off-Field Concepts Ltd.

13 September 2016

Why do we need fire prevention?

Fire accidents affect thousands of people and businesses. A good and properly executed fire prevention plan can save lives, keep homes safe and help avoid injuries and various degrees of losses. Fire is extremely dangerous and can completely engulf a building in less than two minutes from the time it starts. This means you may have far less than two minutes to escape in the event of fire. Fire prevention is the best way to practice fire safety.

So, in order of importance, the main goals of fire prevention are to save lives, reduce injuries to people, prevent or minimize damage to property and preserve operations (especially for a business). One might add, reduce waste associated with emergency fire response and preserve the environment.

A fire prevention campaign is proactively aimed at educating the public on the dangers of fire, the precautions necessary to prevent dangerous fires and the steps to survive them.

A fire prevention campaign is proactively aimed at educating the public on the dangers of fire, the precautions necessary to prevent dangerous fires and the steps to survive them.

Steps and Actions in Fire Prevention

In general, you should have a working smoke alarm that is tested regularly and a fire escape plan that is well rehearsed by all members of your household. These can essentially increase the chances of escape and survival for you and others. Talk to your children and other members of your household regularly about fire prevention and safety, the dangers of fire, stoves, chemicals, matches and lighters.

Fire Triangle Fire Prevention Campaign Week

Fire needs oxygen, fuel and heat. It’s called the ‘fire triangle’. Remove or diminish any of the three, and you suppress fire. Again, to prevent fires, it’s necessary to keep fuel, oxygen, and heat from coming together.

Cooking Fire


  • Be proactive – frequently scan your home for possible sources or items that start a fire – electrical sockets, appliances, matchsticks, lighters, etc.
  • What can burn and help the fire spread (fuel)? Make a note of them. Remove them or if they are essential, re-position them away from any possible source of fire.
  • Never play with fire. It is dangerous and can take you unawares. Teach your kids same.
  • Dispose waste regularly. Common household waste such as paper, packets and packaging materials can serve as a source of fuel.
  • When cooking or ironing, never leave to do something else. As humans, we do forget. Adequately supervise cooking and ironing activities in the house.
  • If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the stove. You will soon be after all.
  • Do not cook when you’ve had alcohol, or medication, or when you are tired. You can eat something else and cook when you are fully conscious.
  • Check that the cooker or stove and irons are turned off before going to bed, leaving the kitchen or ironing room, or before leaving the house. Make it a routine.
  • If you see a flame when cooking or frying with oil. Do not panic. Place a lid on the pot or frying pan, and turn off the stove immediately. DO NOT USE WATER! The water can get super-heated, explode and splash oil on the fire causing the fire to spread further. Super-heated water, on explosion, can cause severe burns.
  • Dip matches in water after use to extinguish any invisible flame or heat source that could cause a fire in the trash can.
  • Towels, plastic utensils and wooden turners can catch fire. Always keep them away from the stove.
  • It is advisable to set automatic or manual reminders when cooking. After all, good recipes should have an expected time of completion. You can buy a timer with bell or simply set stopwatch on your smartphone.
  • Avoid wearing clothing with loose sleeves, or fasten them, while cooking.
  • Keep pets away from cooking areas as they can knock combustible items onto the stove.
  • Keep items that can attract kids such as sweets, biscuits, etc. – away from the stove. Kids might be tempted to climb on it to get to the treats.
  • Clean your stove after cooking. Particularly, keep it free from accumulated grease.
Candles and Open Flames

Candles & Open Flame Illumination

  • Candles, oil lamps, and other open flame illumination or decorative items are dangerous and a frequent source of fire in Nigeria. Use these with extreme caution.
  • Extinguish the candles before going to bed. Never leave candles and other open flame items unattended. Put them out before going to bed!
  • Put out the candle when leaving the room. You can light it back on when you return.
  • Do not store any flammable liquid in a garage or utility room.
Electrical Fire Dangers

Electrical Safety & Fire Prevention Tips

  • Keep heaters, extension cords and other portable electrical or heating devices away from high traffic areas in the home – corridors, passageways, or other areas with frequent traffic.
  • Never use extension cords for your air conditioner.
  • Clean, or have your interior AC coils cleaned, and replace your return air filters regularly. This will prevent the fan motor from being overworked, and also save money on your energy bill.
  • Listen for squealing sounds, rumbling noises, or banging and tapping sounds when your air conditioner is operating. These may indicate loose parts or bearings which are seizing up.
  • If the lights in your home flicker or you experience intermittent power surges, call a qualified electrician to check them. They are sometimes a sign of a short-circuit or a bad connection which is potentially a cause of fire.
  • If you have portable heaters, turn them off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • If your fuses blow or your breaker trip frequently, it’s usually an indication of an overloaded circuit or other wiring problem, usually of a most serious nature. Call a qualified electrician.
  • Ensure there are no cables travelling under or on top of rugs, carpets or other combustible floor cover.
  • Always inspect the power cords for your appliances. Replace them if they are damaged or if defects are found.
  • Use proper fuses and avoid overloading of electrical boxes.
Cigarettes Fire Risks

Smoking & Cigarettes

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Keep lighters and matches away from children. They are not toys.
  • Extinguish cigarette butts before emptying ashtrays. Never place a cigarette butt directly into a trashcan without dousing it with water first.
  • Do not abandon or carelessly discard smoking materials as they could ignite trash, bedding or upholstered furniture.
Fire Escape Plan

Fire Escape Planning & Fire Drills

  • You should know the emergency numbers for your city’s fire department and other relevant emergency services; all adults in your home should have these numbers stored on their phones. Also make a list of these numbers and place in visible locations in your home. Let family members know what the numbers are for.
  • Remember to get out first if there is a fire, then call for help once safely outside.
  • Again!!! GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL for help.
  • If your children are old enough to understand, teach them the popular STOP, DROP, and ROLL technique which is used put out flames and avoid serious burns if their clothing catches fire. Practice this with them during your family fire drills.
  • If you have a nanny, make sure they fully understand fire safety and have rehearsed your fire escape plan and drill. Remember your children will be in their care when you are not home.
  • Remember that during an escape in a smoke filled room, it’s best to get down on your hands and knees and crawl below the smoke towards the exit. The air on the floor is always cooler in this situation.
  • When planning a fire escape route, let your children be part of it. That way, they will not forget.
  • Include a meeting place in your plan. This should be outside your home where everyone will gather and an audit of all occupants can be taken.
  • Make sure your children and everyone in your household knows never to go back inside a burning building.
  • A good way to know if your children will wake up or sleep through a fire alarm is to hold a drill while everyone is asleep. It’s closer to reality and you can check to see who is slow in response. However, hold this night drill only after they have mastered your fire escape plan.
Test Smoke Alarms Monthly

Smoke Alarm

  • Install smoke alarm in your home. Its early warning benefits are huge, especially for fires that occur while you and others are asleep. You can also read this excellent introduction to fire alarm systems.
  • Generally, you should get a professional to install smoke detectors in every room in your home and in the kitchen, corridors, and close to electrical distribution boxes (DB). Install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your home, including the basement.
  • Test your smoke alarm at least twice a year (ideally, once a month), and if you are using the battery-powered smoke detectors, replace the batteries once a year.
  • If you have any person with hearing impairments, request special smoke alarms with strobes and/or vibration.
  • Replace your smoke alarms with new ones after 10 years, or as soon as you discover damaged or non-functional ones.
Fire Extinguisher PASS

Fire Extinguishers

  • Buy one or more good fire extinguishers and place them in strategic locations in your home. It’s a good practice to have one near the kitchen.
  • You should also have them checked twice a year. Follow this guide to learn how.
  • Also ensure that you and other members of your household know how to use fire extinguishers. You can ask the supplier to teach you. You can also follow this guide to learn how.
  • Do not use fire extinguishers if you have not received training from a competent person.
  • Do not use fire extinguishers in a room filled with smoke.
  • Only use fire extinguishers for if the fire is confined to a small area and not expanding.
  • Only use fire extinguishers when every occupant has left the building.
  • Be sure to buy good and resilient fire extinguishers. There is no point in buying something that might fail in an emergency.
  • When using fire extinguishers, remember PASS: PULL the Pin; AIM at the Base; SQUEEZE Trigger; Use in a SWEEPing motion.


Fire fighting is a battle against time. And so is fire prevention. Fire prevention is the most effective way of avoiding injury and damage by fire. Fire Safety begins with you. The key is to be proactive and imbibe a culture of safety.

This article is the second in a series as part of our Fire Safety Awareness Campaign throughout September 2016.