A week rarely passes by without news of devastating fire outbreaks in Kenya. Last week, a fire outbreak at a dormitory in Moi Girls School Kibera killed nine students and left many with severe injuries. In March 2001, the world was shaken to the core when an arsonist attack at a boys’ dormitory in Kyanguli Mixed Secondary school in Machakos County reduced 68 students aged 14 to 20 to ashes. Another similar fire disaster at Bombolulu Girls Secondary School killed 25 girls in the wee hours of the night. The three cases are just samples among many yet in in all of these fire infernos one thing has always stood out —sluggish response from firefighters and authorities. So what would you do to survive a fire outbreak in school?
Plan In Advance
Make an escape plan and practice it regularly to make sure everyone knows how to get out of the dorm in case there is fire. You can do this with the help of school authorities and dorm captains.
Make sure you know where the emergency exit doors are in case the main door is blocked.
If your dormitory has a lift, do not use it no matter how tempting it is.
Make sure that the emergency exit doors are always free of barriers such as furniture and rubbish. Exit routes should never be a dumping place.
Escaping the Fire
If you notice a fire outbreak in the school dormitory, your priority should be to alert everyone to get out as quickly as possible rather than trying to fight the fire by yourselves.
Manually activate the dormitory fire alarm usually located near emergency exits and yell Fire! Fire!
Ensure that all the windows are closed even as you attempt to make your way out in order to prevent the fire from spreading.
Try to move out in an orderly and calm pace rather than stampeding because panicking only makes your situation worse and could actually cause injuries and fatalities.
You should also listen carefully to first responders and do as they say because the only thing that will keep you alive in a fire outbreak is knowing what to do.
When outside the burning dorm, do not attempt re-enter the building to pick your belongings.
When Caught in Smoke
Drop to hands and knees and crawl towards the closest exit.
Stay low, smoke because will rise to the ceiling level first.
Hold in your breath as much as you can
Breathe through your nose rather than your mouth. You can do this using a filter such as a shirt, towel or handkerchief.
Clothes on Fire
When your clothes catch fire, cover your face with your hands and drop to the ground rolling over the flames.
If you’re disabled
Notify school authorities to set mechanisms for assistance in evacuation in case of emergency.
It is also important to have friends near your room in case of a fire outbreak.
Fire Prevention Tips
Report any vandalized fire equipment to school authorities.
Do not use matches or lighters in the dorms.
Do not hide in closets or under beds when there is fire.
Seek psychological counselling from the school authorities in case of anxiety.