The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is urging vigilance by parents and guardians to prevent fires while children are at home during the summer months.
Public Relations Officer for the JFB, Emilio Ebanks, shared several recommended precautions that families should observe to prevent fires especially over the period.
Ebanks emphasised that underage children should never be left alone at home.
“When it comes to children and being at home, once the child is under (the age of) 16 (years), we don’t recommend leaving children at home, and that of course also goes for the elderly. So, you never, ever leave the children or the elderly alone at home,” he recommended.
“The basic reason is that children will try to experiment and try to do things, especially when parents or some kind of guardian that you know is mobile and can watch and see what they’re doing, is not around; that is when they will try to do things like that,” he added.
Ebanks also urged parents to caution children from playing with implements that can cause fires.
“Parents, remind children that they are not to play with anything that can start fires, and if a child is under 12 years old, that child should not be cooking at all. It doesn’t matter if they are tall enough to reach the stove… they should not be cooking at all,” he warned.
In the summer, fires may be started due to the increased use of electrical devices, as these can cause electrical overload.
Ebanks said devices should not be left charging unattended, as these can overheat and lead to fires.
“When it comes to your devices, make sure that the devices are charged on a solid, cool surface. Do not charge your devices on the sofa, on the bed or (surfaces) like that, as the devices can get hot and they will not have a space to cool properly, because that is the main problem when you’re charging devices. They must have circulative space so that they can cool down when they get hot,” he explained.
Ebanks added that all households should formulate an emergency plan and ensure that every member of the family is familiar with it, particularly the children.
Persons are advised to plan escape routes away from the home by car and foot, and to have a meeting place for your family.
After evacuating the building, all persons should be aware of the location of the emergency assembly point. This should be an open area that is a safe distance from the building and is clear of any fire hazards, such as falling debris, gas cylinders and fuel.
Avoid enclosed spaces, as these can trap persons.
A list of emergency numbers should be written down and placed in a central, prominent location that is easily accessible to everyone.
These should include the numbers for the fire brigade, the nearest police station, the work and cell numbers of the parents, and the contact information of a family member or friend who lives nearby. It is recommended that these be placed near the exits of the building.
Ebanks is also admonishing persons from making prank calls.
“Do not prank call the emergency services. If you don’t have a fire, do not call (911 or 112)… Do not call the fire station to report a fire (unless you have a real emergency),” he said.
Persons are encouraged to report any suspicious fire or smoke to the nearest fire station.