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Health And Family

Fire safety tips: You'd better watch out

CONSUMERLINE - Ching M. Alano -

So, have you lighted up your Christmas tree and decked the walls and halls of your home with Christmas lights? My family’s cost-cutting measures this Christmas include trimming down our Christmas lights to the barest minimum and keeping them on only for a few hours of the night. But on second thought, maybe we don’t need those Christmas lights at all — for as long as there’s love, peace, and goodwill to brighten our home not just this Christmas but the whole year through.

It’s a sad fact that there’s a spate of fire accidents — they don’t go on a break — during the holiday season, so you’d better watch out!

The Philippine National Red Cross recently came out with the following fire safety tips following the death of seven persons in an incident in Mandaluyong City and the loss of 105 houses in Cebu City over the weekend:            

• Avoid electrical overloading.

• Unplug all electrical appliances after every use.

• Check all electrical installations regularly.

• Check gas stoves and LPG tanks for leaks.

• Keep children away from flammable liquids, lighters, and matches.

• Avoid smoking in bed. Ensure you have a pre-fire plan at your residence or office.

• Do not leave lighted mosquito coils unattended.

• Always take extra precautions while cooking.

• Never leave lighted candles unattended.            

• Do not throw lighted cigar or cigarette butts on dried leaves and garbage.

• Strictly obey the “No smoking” signs.

• Maintain proper housekeeping to eliminate fire hazards.

• Check fire protection gadgets or devices of appliances and equipment regularly.

• Be fire-safety conscious. Bought a new DVD player? Have you upgraded your television set? Then it is a bright idea to upgrade the electronic connection of your home first as a precaution against fire.

PNRC issues this fiery warning: Household fires are commonly triggered by the use of “wrong protection” and patronage of substandard appliances. Fires can still occur in houses equipped with circuit breakers, especially if the homeowners do not upgrade their electrical connection. Having a circuit breaker makes the household owners feel safe. But unknown to them, there is a need to upgrade their electrical connections once they start buying additional appliances.  

“The tendency is people do not like to upgrade (when they already install circuit breakers). If their 30 ampere fuse trips because of overload, they only change it with a 60 ampere fuse, which is not enough,” says PNRC safety services manager Benjamin Delfin.            

In upgrading the electrical connection, house owners should have their electrical wires checked not just by any electrician but by a licensed electrician. In the event of overloading, electrical wires start to heat up. Electrical spark occurs when the wires are exposed to fuel and oxygen.

PNRC points out that the three important elements that cause electrical spark are air (oxygen); fuel (paper, wood, dust, etc.); and heat. Households and commercial establishments are supposed to have upgraded their electrical connections or have rewired at least every 20 to 25 years. But it will also help if the upgrading is done as often as possible, especially if the owner of the house keeps on buying more appliances. 

And here are fire prevention tips for LPG tank users: 

• Place LPG cylinders in well-ventilated areas, away from ignition sources, and don’t store them in basements or cellars.

• For those with snap-on or bayonet-type valves, inspect the O-ring for scratches and cracks.

• Check the regulator regularly and replace within three years. Connect the regulator securely to the cylinder valve.

• Use an LPG-rated hose as ordinary rubber hoses melt when used with LPG. It is recommended to replace this every two years.   

• Metal clamps must be used to attach the hose to the regulator and the appliance.

• Make sure that the burner emits a blue flame.

• Manufacturer’s instructions should be followed to ensure the proper use and maintenance of the gas appliance. 

• A friendly reminder to all LPG owners: Make it a habit to check for leaks in your LPG systems. To detect leaks, apply soapy water to the hose and joints. Bubbles surfacing after the application of soapy water signals a leakage so it must be replaced. 

• Always keep tanks upright. The tank must not be thrown or rolled on its side, especially during transportation. 

For more information, call the Communications Office at 527-0000 local 136, 527-6226 or 09166166805 (look for Alex Rosete). 

* * *

‘Tis the dengue season

The Philippine National Red Cross has also stepped up its nationwide campaign against dengue through a massive information drive and clean-up activities. Mere mention of the word “dengue” is enough to send chills down our spine.     

A recent alarming report by the Department of Health (DoH) notes that dengue cases have soared in Metro Manila and Central Luzon but decreased in other areas during the past 10 months. Affected areas in the National Capital Region are Manila, Caloocan City, and Quezon City. The DoH-National Epidemiology Center reports that NCR had a total of 11,161 cases with 71 deaths from January to October this year while Central Luzon registered 3,966 cases from Jan. 1 to Oct. 4. A total of 32,882 cases have already been reported to DoH sentinel hospitals, compared to the 39,225 cases last year. 

Red Cross Community Health and Nursing Services (CHNS) manager Dr. Cecilia Francisco admonishes the public to prevent the spread of dengue by:           

• Intensifying campaign on elimination of mosquito breeding sites, especially in barangays where clustering is noted (coordinate with provincial/municipal/city health office in identification of areas with clustering of cases).

• Monitoring identified sites weekly.   

• Organizing possible daily regular school-based clean-up campaign initiated by the Red Cross Youth Councils.

• Disseminating messages on self-protection from mosquito bites (application of insect repellant lotion and wearing light-colored protective clothing; use of mosquito nets for daytime sleepers like infants or bed-ridden persons).

• Searching and eliminating breeding sites within and outside the house, and symptoms and early identification referral of cases (report cases with history of fever — two days’ duration — to the nearest health center).            

PNRC can also assist in the prevention of complications by promoting the use of paracetamol, not aspirin, for treatment of fever; intake of fluids; early referral of cases (report cases with history of fever — two days’ duration — to the nearest health center/facility).           

To prevent dengue fever. PNRC-CNHS gives the following timely life-saving tips:

• To avoid mosquito bites: Use mosquito repellants on skin and clothing. When outdoors during times that mosquitoes are biting, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks. Avoid heavily populated residential areas.

• When indoors, stay in air-conditioned or screened areas. Use bed nets in sleeping areas that are not screened or air-conditioned. 

• To eliminate mosquito breeding sites: Cover water drums and water pails at all times to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Replace water in flower vases once a week. Clean all water containers once a week. Scrub the sides well to remove eggs of mosquitoes sticking to the sides.            

• Clean gutters of leaves and debris so that rainwater will not collect as breeding places of mosquitoes. Old tires used as roof support should be punctured or cut to avoid accumulation of water. Collect and dispose of all unusable tin cans, jars, bottles, and other items that can collect and hold water.             

 Based on the dengue update from at least three regions of the country, the number of reported cases in 2008 has exceeded the 2007 figure for the same period last year by at least 42 percent. The Center for Health Development reports that from January 1 to August 5, 2008 figures were 146-percent higher than in 2007. In Region 3, the number of hospital admissions from January 1 to August 23 was 202.6 percent higher than last year. 

PNRC-National Blood Services (NBS) head Dr. Christie Nalupta assures the public that it can supply 15,000 units of blood to any barangay or village in the event of a national calamity or emergency. “Yes, we can supply 15,000 units anywhere in case of emergency. In 2007, the Red Cross had a supply of 180,000 units of blood from various donors,” she says.

The PNRC Blood Service depends entirely on voluntary donations from the public. Blood donation sessions are set up throughout the country and take place in many different venues. To be a donor, you must be fit and healthy, weigh 50 kilograms (110 lbs.), and be between 17 and 60 years old. Regular healthy donors can donate blood until age 70. Donors can give blood up to four times a year (once every 16 weeks). 

Do you think you have it in you to be a blood donor? To give blood and love on Christmas day?

* * *

We’d love to hear from you. E-mail us at [email protected].

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