Many home fires are preventable. A little bit of planning can go a long way to protect your loved ones and your property. Here are some tips from the Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS) to keep your home and family safe:
Working smoke alarms are the easiest way to protect your home and family.
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
TEST SMOKE ALARMS
Test smoke alarms at least once a month and replace batteries once a year or when the alarm ‘chirps’ to tell you the battery is low. Replace any smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old.
WATCH YOUR COOKING
Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove. Make sure saucepan handles don’t stick out so they don’t get knocked off the stove. Take care if you’re wearing loose clothes – they can easily catch fire.
KEEP APPLIANCES CLEAN
Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order to prevent them triggering a fire.
INSPECT ELECTRICAL CORDS
Replace cords that are cracked, damaged, have broken plugs, or have loose connections.
Consider asking smokers to smoke outside. Have sturdy, deep ashtrays. Stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully. Don’t leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe lying around. They can easily fall over and start a fire.
KEEP MATCHES AND LIGHTERS OUT OF REACH
Keep matches and lighters up high, out of the reach of children. Consider buying child-resistant lighters and match boxes.
BE CAREFUL WHEN USING CANDLES
Make sure candles are secured in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire – like curtains. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.
A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. Always read the instructions first. Extinguishers, however, have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly,
the top priority for residents is to get out safely.
GET OUT, STAY OUT, CALL FOR HELP
If a fire occurs in your home, follow the CIFS advice: Get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1.
PLAN AN ESCAPE ROUTE
Plan an escape route and make sure everyone knows how to escape in the event of a fire. Practise it at least twice a year.
- Make sure all exits are kept clear.
- The best route is the normal way in and out of your home.
- Think of a second route in case the first one becomes blocked.
- Take a few minutes to practise your escape plan.
- Review your plan if the layout of your home changes.
- Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.
GET OUT SAFELY
What to do if there is a fire
- Keep calm and act quickly, get everyone out as soon as possible.
- Don’t waste time investigating what’s happened or rescuing valuables.
- If there’s smoke, keep low where the air is clearer.
- Before you open a door, check if it’s warm. If it is, don’t open it – fire is on the other side.
What to do if your escape is blocked
If you can’t get out, get everyone into one room, ideally with a window and a phone.
- Put bedding around the bottom of the door to block out the smoke.
- Call 9-1-1 then open the window and shout “Help. Fire”.
- If you’re on the ground or first floor, you may be able to escape through a window.
- Use bedding to cushion your fall and lower yourself down carefully. Don’t jump.
- If you can’t open the window, break the glass in the bottom corner. Make jagged edges safe with a towel or blanket.
- Never go back to a lit firework.
- Never throw fireworks or put them in your pocket.
- Don’t drink alcohol if you’re setting off fireworks.
- Store fireworks in a closed box and take them out one at a time.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby.
- Follow the instructions on each firework. Use a torch to read them – never a naked flame.
- Light fireworks at arm’s length, using the taper provided.
- Make sure everyone stands well back.
- Always supervise children around fireworks and never give sparklers to a child younger than 5.
- Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves.
- Keep pets indoors.
- Take care around open flames such as bonfires and barbecues – even clothes labelled ‘low flammability’ may catch fire.