The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is urging Jamaicans to exercise caution during the festive season in order to prevent fires.
Acting Assistant Commissioner and Public Relations Officer, Emeleo Ebanks, said that cooking should not be left unattended, and persons should ensure that curtains or kitchen towels are not near to the flame.
“If the stove goes out, ensure that there is no lingering gas in the air before you try to restart the burner,” he said.
He advises that if gas is smelt, persons should ventilate the room for five to 10 minutes before relighting the stove. He explained that trying to reignite a stove, flipping a switch or plugging in an electrical appliance can cause a spark, which could result in a fire.
Mr Ebanks said that all homes should be equipped with smoke detectors in each room and a heat detector in the kitchen. These devices, he noted, are affordable and should be maintained with full batteries.
Around the home, additional precautions can be taken for the safety of all occupants.
No more than three Christmas lights in each socket
“Do not plug more than three Christmas lights into one socket. While the lights allow you to plug additional lights into each at the end, remember that it is still one socket that they are going into,” Mr Ebanks pointed out.
Extension cords must remain visible
He further advises householders “to ensure that extension cords can be seen from the point of origin. Do not hide them under the carpet or behind furniture because they are not aesthetically pleasing. This will chafe the wires and wear away the insulation of the cords, which can lead to fires.
Don’t attempt to repair electrical cords
“If the third prong from your plugs comes loose, do not try to repair it. At this point, you must replace the appliance or extension cord,” he added. The third prong serves as a ground connection to redirect electrical surges from the appliance, thus protecting it and the user from electrical damage and injury.
Ensure house is licensed and certified
Mr Ebanks said that houses should be checked by a licensed and certified electrician.
“If your house was wired and passed more than five years ago, a lot of things have changed in that time. We live in the tropics and over time, the heat will start to break down the insulation on wires, which is meant to protect them and prevent them from touching,” he pointed out.
Monitor children carefully
As it relates to children, Mr Ebanks said that in addition to ensuring that they are monitored, parents or guardians should take the time to explain the dangers of fires to them as part of the safety and prevention process.
Establish an emergency meeting point
The JFB Acting Assistant Commissioner said that the family should establish an emergency meeting point that is known to all members, and ensure that they know the telephone numbers of the nearest fire station.
Persons seeking additional information about how to make their homes safer this holiday season can contact any fire station across the island.