It’s that time of the year again. The whole country reverberates to the joy of celebrations over a five-day period. There’s music, food, light and an air of prosperity all around! Yes, we’ll soon be celebrating Diwali, the festival of light that marks the victory of good over evil. Celebrated with great joy and festivities in most parts of India, it is marked by the lighting of lamps, crackers, exchange of greetings and gifts, buying gold, decorating of home and sharing sweets with family and friends.
Along with all the above, the festival of Diwali has also become associated with firecrackers that cause injuries and leave people with burns, loss of eyesight, damage to the ears and to property if adequate care is not taken. Every year, there is a significant number of burns and other injuries that are reported during the festival.
When it comes to apartment complex, there is special attention needed for fire safety. With hundreds of people living in these cramped societies, you not only need to play safe yourself but also need to ensure your neighbours also play by the rules. There have been many fire incidents in Group Housing complex in past and one of the recent one was this:-
[su_quote]GURGAON: Fire engulfed a flat on the top floor of BPTP Freedom Park Life apartments in Sector 57 around 9:45 pm on Thursday. No one was injured in the blaze, suspected to have been caused by a firecracker finding its way into a house by sneaking through a window, as occupants of the Tower B apartment were away.[/su_quote]
Be Prepared! Plan Ahead for Everyone’s Safety!
First thing first, Residents must ensure the fire clearance and annual renewals are actively taken by FM or RWAs.
Ignorance about fire safety is a major problem in India. Fire safety is probably the last item on our TODO list or completely missing most of the time. Before we talk about prevention, let’s first discuss important point to avert any major incident.
- Fire Fighting Equipments: Do you know the fire extinguisher and fire hose installed in your lobby works as expected? Does the fire fighting system in your old or newly built society even function properly? Probably now is the time to check that out. Don’t leave this task just on Property Managers or RWAs representative. Most of time these people are also ignorant just like you. They also tend to ignore basic fire safety.
- Fire Alarms: Make sure the fire detection system works! If fire strikes, smoke detectors and fire alarms alert you to a fire right away, so you can get out of the building safely. Be sure your building has a working fire alarm system and learn to recognize the sound of the alarm. Know where the alarms are located in your building and how to operate them in an emergency.
- Preparedness of Fire Safety personals: You should have extra fire safety personnel on duty around Diwali. Check their preparedness. Ensure they are well trained and their equipments are functioning properly.
- Escape Routes are not blocked: In a fire, there is no time to stop and think. You need to know in advance the two quickest safe ways out of your unit and your building. Ensure that escape routes are not blocked or locked.
Property Managers / RWAs must ensure that they are following the fire safety guidelines and double check all the points mentioned in Fire Safety Rules. They must circulate and Do’s and Don’ts guideline to residents and can also inform them of designated areas and timing for fire crackers.
Safe ways to burst crackers without Inviting danger
Fire crackers are essential part of celebration around Diwali festival. Although it is your personal choice to give up firecrackers for various reasons but it is your responsibility to use them carefully, especially in high rise complexes. Your carelessness, ignorance or negligence with handling fireworks can end in fire accidents or burns. Every year, minor and major injuries are reported during Diwali. We are listing down some of the important step that you can take to minimize the risk of mishappenings.
- Designate areas to light firecrackers. Most important thing that is mandatory in a gated community is to light firecrackers only in designated areas. While, everyone loves to light crackers in their balconies or just outside their flat, it is not preferred as it can lead to serious fire accidents. It is imperative that in a community, the managing committee designates areas where firecrackers can be lighted and for all the members to follow the same. Usual places where fire crackers cannot be burnt are balconies, staircases, lobbies, lawns. It is also important that fireworks are lighted only during designated timings to avoid disturbing residents of your complex.
- Specified time for fire crackers
- Ensure to keep fires extinguishers and water buckets close to these designated areas.
- Say NO to sky shot and Rocket. Rockets can be very dangerous in high rise buildings. You must refrain from using such type of crackers in group housing societies.
Do’s and Don’ts for individuals
- Keep balcony doors CLOSED.
- Compulsory fire extinguishers in every apartment and lobbies.
- Ensure highly inflammable materials (paints etc) are not stored and exposed to fire crackers.
- Store your fireworks in a safe area. Clear the area around before starting to light crackers.
- Keep a couple of buckets of water handy for putting out fires. Remember, every major fire starts small.
- Keep emergency contact numbers handy. This should include society’s emergency contact details too.
- Know where fire alarms switches are installed.
- Let your children burst crackers on their own.
- Have flammable materials like wood, electrical cables, fuel, lighted lamps etc. around where you store or light fireworks.
- Leave spent sparklers on the ground. Sprinkle water over them at the end.
- Do not use rockets etc.
Role of Apartment Owners Association in preventing fire accident
- Apartment Owners Association and Residents Welfare Association (RWA) can play vital role in preventing fire during Diwali or festival celebration. Restrict residents from burning crackers from balconies, staircases, lobbies, lawns.
- Apartment owners association can print or issue a notice which can contain the set of rules or guidelines for celebrating Diwali festival in apartment community.
- Designate open space and safest surroundings for lighting crackers.
- Ensure an Emergency evacuation plans or building evacuation plans to prevent fire mishaps in apartment community and hold mock drills to create awareness on procedures to be followed in times of an evacuation.
- Ensure that fire-fighting equipment are in good working conditions and paste evacuation plan in common areas of apartment complex.
With a little bit of care and caution, Diwali can be enjoyed by one and all. Take that few additional steps to make sure that the festival leaves only pleasant memories for all involved. We wish you a very happy and safe Diwali!