Why your home can be a death trap

20Sep 2018
Getrude Mbago
The Guardian
Why your home can be a death trap
  • ‘In building their homes, most Tanzanians tend to think about their security first... but unfortunately forgetting about their basic safety’

AS more and more Tanzanians build homes designed to make maximum use of modern forms of energy utilities, many are inadvertently setting death traps for their families in case of fire by installing grills at all exit points and wrongly placing cooking gas cylinders,-

When grilled doors and windows can prove tragic in the event of a fire outbreak or some other unforeseen danger. File photo

among other mistakes, it has been disclosed.

According to Kinondoni Fire and Rescue Department instructor Sergeant Semba Maingu, most deadly gas-related fires are caused simply by careless handling of the substance and its containers.

Speaking to the Guardian in an interview, Maingu also asserted that these days architectural and construction plans for residential and commercial buildings rarely place sufficient consideration on safety, particularly in terms of possible domestic fires.

“If you visit most of this country’s cities and towns, you will find many buildings with heavily- grilled windows and surrounded by heavy steel. This means that people tend to think first about their security... but unfortunately they forget about their basic safety,” he said.

He called on Tanzanians to ensure that the buildings they erect abide by the highest of both safety and security standards, stressing that including secret and easily accessible exit points in homes and other structures could prove vital.

Maingu also warned that domestic stoves set on top of gas cylinders is a ‘dangerous’ mechanism that could easily cause explosions.

It is more advisable to install household gas cylinders outside the house itself, with the tube fitted to a stove, burner or cooker in the kitchen, and not have both cylinder and stove together in the kitchen as is the common tendency now, he said.

The tube also needs to be changed regularly, he added.

“We see domestic fires being mostly caused by careless handling of gas or electricity.  Fire accidents are reported every day, causing unlimited damage … the fire and rescue department works day and night,” Maingu said.

The fire expert also outlined four types of fire which most people should be aware about and how to fight them.

“Not all fires are the same, they are classified. And each type of fire has its own appropriate fire extinguisher size and agent to fight it,” he stated.

According to Maingu, Class A fires are caused by wood, paper, or cloth burning; while Class B fires come from flammable liquids such as petrol, diesel, oil-based paints, alcohol, and so on.

Class C fires are triggered by gas substances; and Class D fires are caused by combustible metals such as magnesium, aluminium, sodium, lithium, and potassium.

“Each kind of fire has its most appropriate extinguisher type… water, foam, powder, carbon dioxide, and so forth,” he explained.

Maingu also recommended that sand can be used to fight fire instead of dry powder in areas where modern fire extinguishers are not available.

“It is for this reason that we usually recommend house-owners to have at least two buckets of dry sand at hand in case of fire,” he said.

He further explained that the Fire and Rescue Department is in the process of providing fire-fighting and prevention training to staffers of offices in Dar es Salaam’s Kinondoni district.

The initiative is part of the department’s efforts to reduce the number of fire accidents, mostly due to carelessness, in the country.

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