Residents offered advice on preventing house fires

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Trained firefighter and emergency expert Anderson Tuitt says people should refrain from using electronic devices while charging them, to avoid house fires (Photo courtesy Reader’s Digest)
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Residents are being urged to adopt some simple, but effective techniques to prevent house fires caused by electronic devices.

The advice, from trained firefighter and emergency expert Anderson Tuitt, comes as an increasing number of households in Antigua and Barbuda are being displaced due to disastrous blazes.

According to US media, there are nearly 30,000 electrical fires across that country each year, causing an estimated US$1.1 billion in property damage and over 300 deaths.

And while the causes of many of the local fire incidents remain a mystery, there is the possibility that at least some are the direct result of the careless use of electronics.

Tuitt said one of the most frequent fire-causing actions is persons charging these devices on a bed, especially during night-time when they are asleep. 

“What happens is, that device – that laptop, that tablet, that cell phone – there’s no air circulating around it, so eventually it builds up heat, and we know once there’s heat along with the other elements that are required, a fire can happen. And your mattress is one of the most highly flammable things in your entire household.

“So, something as simple as that, persons take for granted…you turn your back and before you know it, you have a fire on your hands,” Tuitt said.

He advised that the best time to charge devices is when you’re up and alert, so you can monitor any issues with the device or the charger.

“The best thing is, if you’re charging a device, charge it and just leave it; don’t be using your devices while you’re charging them.

“That’s putting a strain on the charger [and] it’s putting a strain on the very sensitive parts of that equipment, because each time you’re using it you’re pulling power from the device and the charger now has to push back out that power,” he added.

Tuitt also spoke on the importance of residents acquiring fire extinguishers and/or smoke detectors for use in the home.

He said while many may consider this a rather expensive venture, it is a worthwhile investment.

“When you invest in a fire extinguisher today, you’re looking at over 10 years once you’re taking care of it…I can tell you for a fact I have met vendors who have had their fire extinguishers way beyond 10 years, in excellent condition,” he said.

Safety Steps Antigua – a website founded by Tuitt – teaches people about various disasters and shares measures on how to mitigate them.

S. T. E. P. S – Safety Through Education Prevention and Strategy – was established more than seven years ago, and was created to educate and inform persons about safety and issues relating to safety.

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