“Sasa Sarah? Mtoto anaendelea aje?” (Hi Sarah, how is the baby doing?)
Linda asked her house help as she shut down her computer in the office.
“Mmm… mmmh… na mzee alikuja lunch?” (Mmm… mmmh… and did my husband come home for lunch?)
“Haya, mi niko njiani. Tafadhali toa ile kuku kwa freezer mapema, tutapika hio na ugali kabla mzee arudi usiku, sawa?” (Alright, I’m on my way. Please remove the chicken from the freezer, we’ll be cooking that and some ugali before my husband gets home, okay?)
She quickly stuffs her laptop into her bag, locks her office and leaves. In about 20 minutes, she’s pulling up to her driveway. The chicken had thawed somewhat, so she rolled up her sleeves and set about carving it and setting it on the cooker. She then walks over to the nursery, knowing she could spend at least a few minutes with her 11-month old daughter Kelly before heading back to the kitchen.
Kelly had just begun to walk, and she was a ball of energy, picking things up, stuffing toys in her mouth, and Sarah had a difficult time getting a hold of her. But she loved her all the same. Kelly left the room briefly then came back in, leaning on the door and inadvertently shutting it. Linda took little notice of it and continued playing with Kelly, until the aroma of slightly burnt chicken begun wafting into the room.
She fumbled with the handle for a bit, but the door wouldn’t budge.
“Sarah, mlango imekataa kufungua. Kwani mlicheza cheza nayo leo?” (Sarah, I can’t open the door. Did you guys mess around with the handle?)
Sarah walks over to the door but is unable to open it as well. Meanwhile, what was only an aroma was now smoke, a little at first but soon enough, the fumes turned blacker and billowed into the room, and Linda grew more frantic as she tried to force the door open.
It became more difficult to see, and soon enough they began to choke. They were now screaming, trying to get their neighbours’ attention, but then Linda turned to look at baby Kelly and she was lying unconscious beside her crib.
She could now hear her neighbours trying to break down her door, but she had no energy to shout for help any more. Breathing became laboured. Sarah was next to black out. Visibility was near nil. Everything was blurry, then dark.
Outside, her neighbours were on the verge of giving up. The building caretaker, in a last-ditch attempt to find help, calls the Securex Control Room. The Control Room quickly dispatches an Emergency Response Team who, with much effort, managed to break the main gate down. Linda, Sarah and baby Kelly were rushed to hospital and made a full recovery, after which our team also had to undergo treatment after inhaling the toxic fumes during their heroic rescue mission.
Fire safety often takes a back seat when it comes to securing our homes. While the above incident was perhaps more accidental, we have certainly noted a significant portion of house fires that were started simply due to negligence.
Even before making the commendable step to invest in fire detection and suppression equipment, there are certain fire safety practices that one can adopt in their homes. For instance, you shouldn’t leave cooking food unattended in the kitchen, not at least until you’re done. Should you have to leave the kitchen then be sure to turn the cooker off first.
Another consideration to make, not only with regards to fire safety but to your general wellbeing, is to have your mobile phone on or near you at all times should you need to reach out when in distress.
Beyond this, we have also noted incidents where young ones were left unattended in the home when a fire broke out. It’s highly advisable that you avoid leaving children home alone if you can help it. While we’re on the topic, you should help your kids memorize your mobile number. That way, it’s easier for them to get in touch with you in the event of an emergency. Also consider having your local emergency contacts handy, just in case.
You should also consider coming up with a fire escape plan in your home. This would entail ensuring that everyone knows at least two ways to leave the house, and you set an assembly point that is a safe distance from the home. When coming up with the plan, you should also consider designating one person whose responsibility will be to ensure that all the kids have been moved out of the house safely in an emergency.
Lastly, we need to be careful about how we use candles and lanterns in the house. Be sure to place any candles at least one foot away from anything that can burn. Never leave a candle unattended, and be sure to put out any naked flames before going to bed or leaving the house.
Even as we worry about our security, remember to think about fire safety as well.