Safety first

Do you ever worry about your house going up in flames? I do, many times as I’m sure many homeowners and tenants do.

I tend to over think these sorts of things and so at times I even mull my escape, silently hoping that in the unfortunate event that a fire started, it would be broad daylight and not late at night for obvious reasons.

You’re more likely to get help from Good Samaritans and emergency services at 3:00pm as opposed to 3:00am when you’d most likely be dead asleep and probably think it was just a dream. Thankfully, I’m a light sleeper but still, you never know!

The building collapse in Nairobi and the London Block of Flats that was razed by a fire earlier this week had me thinking how any of us could’ve been the victims. This business of cutting corners endangers all of us and I wish people would learn to just do the right thing instead of always chasing the money. But it’s also true that some people are negligent and don’t do whatever it takes to stay safe.

I like that workplaces, hospitals, schools and public institutions generally attempt to prep us for such emergencies by say conducting fire drills. Most offices also have fire extinguishers and emergency exits but hardly any of that is replicated in private residences, at least not in most parts of Africa.

We need to make our neighborhoods safe because that’s where we spend most of our time but also because they’re fire traps. How many homes have smoke alarms and fire extinguishers? I don’t know any. How many people even know how to work a fire extinguisher?

The first thing I know many of us would do in the event of a fire would be grabbing a bucket of water!

Some people believe keeping gas stoves and cookers out of their homes will keep their children safe because they don’t trust that the maid will always remember to turn the gas off but some of them also use Mosquito coils so the kids won’t get Malaria and I don’t want to lecture anyone because growing up, I remember my own parents doing the same but I think these are fires waiting to happen, considering that most people place them in bedrooms where ash or the coil itself could easily drop onto the beddings and before you know it, the house is on fire.

There’re also candles, kerosene and electrical appliances which put all of us at risk. Personally, I take precautions and always double-check that everything is turned off and unplugged because you can never rule out a power surge but that’s not enough because those you live with have to be as vigilant.

Even more challenging is walking up to a neighbour and asking them to observe the same safety measures because their negligence could cost the entire block not just property but lives too but how do you even do that? For now, I’ll go ahead and look at some fire extinguishers for my house and ensure I learn how to use them!

Rwanda Decides