by Eulana Weekes
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Atlantic hurricane season is underway and the St Kitts and Nevis Fire and Rescue Services is reminding individuals to be mindful of some safety measures to ensure that lives and livelihoods are protected. Fire Sub Station Officer- Timothy Martin said individuals should consider buying flameless means of lighting instead of traditional candles. Martin explained that candles are risky and anything can possibly happen which can lead to a fire.
“In as much as possible, we want individuals to use flameless candles or lighting. Instead of using candles or lamps, there are small battery powered lightings, where you turn on a switch and they are very bright in comparison to candlelight. If you buy and purchase some of these or flashlights for your home, it will go a long way.”
Fire Sub Station officer Romel Williams weighed in on this essential fire safety tip, suggesting that the placement of the candle is given considerable attention.
You just need to take location into consideration. For those of us who might not be able to afford the luxury of purchasing rechargeable lamps or battery operated lamps and have to resort to old school lamps and candles, location is very important where you place them. Where you place them is very important. You need to keep them away from windows or curtains. Going through the hurricanes, we’re going to have high wind, so if you’re going to have curtains, if you’re not going to take the curtains down, do not place candles anywhere near the curtains, or keep them (candles, lamps) away from where children can reach.”
Williams also advised parents to be mindful of where they store their lamp oil, as accidents can occur quickly.
Martin outlined another safety measure. He insisted that individuals pay closer attention to the condition of their stoves, which can eventually produce toxic substances.
Martin said, “Make sure that when you are cooking the stove that you use is of proper nature. Make sure that the burners are burning properly. You know that sometimes you have a bad burner that causes a lot of soot and things like that to formulate. You have to be mindful of Carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Soot is a deep black powdery or flaky substance consisting largely of amorphous carbon, produced by the incomplete burning of organic matter. Considering that fire generates gases which include carbon monoxide, the fire officer noted that being in a house that is battened down, due to weather conditions, leaving that fire to burn in such a way that it creates a lot of soot, carbon monoxide can be generated inside the house which could be detrimental to humans. Martin warned that Carbon monoxide can put an individual to sleep permanently.
In addition, the fire officers are also encouraging individuals who have backup power supply equipment, more so, those with automatic switchovers to check installation before disaster strikes. They suggest checking for faulty wiring, so as to ensure that there are no broken wires that can ignite, resulting in a fire. In the case of oil, the fire officers are also encouraging individuals to store such substances in a safe place away from generators or anything that generates heat.
Fire Sub Station Officer Williams mentioned that fires can occur during a hurricane; informing that, that has happened before. He also emphasised the need for families to have their evacuation plans in place in the event that there is need for the family to relocate. Williams suggests that each family practise their evacuation plan in advance, so that, if needs be, everything will likely go smoothly.