Don't think 'it won't happen to me'

Pay attention to the electric cables and check your homes for fire hazards. No one wakes up one day knowing their house will burn down.

Yoni Avni,

Burning outlet (illustrative)
Burning outlet (illustrative)
iStock

The Lag Ba'omer celebrations and the start of the dry, dangerous season catch Israelis by surprise every year, as if it weren't a standard ritual: The bonfires are too big, too many, too close to the houses, to dry fields, children are unsupervised near fire, and too many people are injured by fire, smoke inhalation, and suffer bodily harm.

We're used to hearing the tragedies on the news many times each year. A fire can ignite in any place, from a small apartment to the lobby of a building or the business we're working in.

Sometimes we notice it and sometimes it comes as a surprise. It's no coincidence that recently, the Chinese-manufactured batteries which we buy cheaply have hit the news, and it seems we end up paying a very high price for them.

A fire doesn't start from nothing. It may start in a split second and very quickly but there's a series of defective and sloppy steps, if I may say so, which led there - to the serious burns, to the smoke inhalation, and yes, to the death. We Israelis like to take the "it'll be fine" approach.

It's true, that's a sign of pure optimism, but it's also a sign of being a slopshod, sometimes when there's no reason for it, in places where seriousness is needed.

Don't say "it won't happen to me" - an old electric appliance may place you and your children in danger of your lives. Pay attention to the electric cable of the air conditioner, the fridge, the oven, the radiator, and even the innocent charger for your mobile phone - especially the cheap ones that come from China, they're very dangerous.

Make sure the appliances are clean and not covered in dust and dirt. Look at the outlet - is it yellowed? Is it sooty? Is it broken? These are checks that are very easy and simple to do, but almost no one does them.

Fire safety precautions exist in newer residential towers. They include systems for identifying and extinguishing fires, warning buttons to press in case of fire, direct connection and warning to the Fire and Rescue Services, and more. These systems obviously apply to new apartments, but they need to be kept up, a lack of maintenance will cause annoying beeps and the residents, in many cases, simply turn the systems off.

No technology in the world can save us from ourselves, and a resident who turns off this kind of system is sentencing himself, his children, and all his neighbors to serious danger. And what about the homes of the elderly? What about their safety? In most buildings fire detection systems are not installed or are not maintained by the rare person, there's crucial maintenance that needs to be done.

At the end of the day, not all tragedies can be prevented, but it is possible to prevent many of them. A home's electricity and gas should be connected by trustworthy professionals. If there is a fire detection system, check to make sure it works. If you suspect something is wrong, call a technician. Nobody in the history of the world has woken up in the morning knowing that his home would catch on fire. It's the collective indifference that places all of us at risk.

Yoel Avni is Vice President of Telefire, a company which manufactures fire detection and extinguishing systems.




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