Prepare for Fire!
Pedro, an exchange student, is about to experience his first Tokyo winter. Today, he has arrived home at his condominium rooms accompanied by Joshua, a more senior student.
It is rather cold today! I feel that I have been chilled to the bone!
That’s a bit of an exaggeration. It is still only November.
I am not accustomed to the cold. I suppose that is because back in my hometown of Rio de Janeiro the average temperature doesn’t drop below 20℃ even in winter.
Yes, in that I come from Hong Kong which is relatively warm throughout the year, I understand how you feel.
Let’s warm up the room a little. I’ll just put on the electric heater.
Wait a moment! It is not a good idea to position the heater so close to the curtains!
What? It should be OK. After all, it isn’t as though the heater and the curtains are in direct contact with one another.
No, no, you shouldn’t think like that. If you position them so close together, then just by chance the curtains might move and brush directly against the heater. What is more, even if there is no direct contact, there have been cases of curtains bursting into flames because they have been heated to the point of ignition due to the close proximity of a heater.
That sounds scary! I’ll place the heater further away.
You should also be more careful because we are approaching a season when it is very easy for fires to break out. In addition to the drier atmosphere making it easier for things to catch alight, there is a greater chance of fires occurring due to the exposed flames of heating equipment such as heaters, etc., and the use of portable stoves in the preparation of hotpot meals.
I suppose the first thing to do to prevent fires is to not place easily combustible things in close proximity to heaters.
That is correct. There are sometimes people who place their washing over a heater to get it to dry, however, that is something you should never do. It is also very dangerous to put things in close proximity to a heater when trying to dry them.
And by the same token, it is also wrong to place things that are easily combustible in close proximity to a stove. What is more, when you are cooking, if for some reason you have to leave what you are doing for a moment, you should always extinguish any naked flame. By the way, what is that on the ceiling? Is it a fire detector?
That is correct. In Japan, it is mandatory that all homes are equipped with such devices. In condominiums like this one as well, fire extinguishers are put in place. Do you remember where the closest fire extinguisher is?
I seem to remember that it was along one of the corridors.
The two friends check the location of the fire extinguishers along the corridors of the condominium. While doing so, they discuss how to respond if a fire should break out.
You should remember “raising the alarm,” “initial fire-fighting activities” and “evacuation.” Of course, the priority given to such actions can vary based on the situation that confronts you. Nevertheless, the three points that I have just mentioned represent the three basic principles that you should follow when responding to a fire. The first thing you should do is tell everybody around you by screaming “Fire!” in a loud voice. Once you have done that, get on a telephone and dial 119.
119? That is the number for calling fire engines and ambulances.
That is correct. What is more, I should tell you that since July of this year, in addition to the Japanese and English languages, the Tokyo Metropolitan Fire Department can respond to emergency calls made in Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.
That’s a relief! If I was shaken by a fire breaking out, I might be unable to clearly convey such information in Japanese.
The next basic principle is initial fire-fighting activities. You should try and extinguish a fire while it is still small and before it has taken hold. I am not just talking about using an extinguisher or water, you can also use a wet towel or a wet blanket, etc., to smother it.
But what if by the time a fire is discovered it has already reached the ceiling? What then?
If that is the case, you should evacuate without trying to do anything rash. What is more, have you ever thought how you would escape if a fire were to break out? What about if you couldn’t get outside via the entrance of your room, what about if you had to escape via the veranda?
That is a good point. Somewhere on this floor there is a room that has an evacuation ladder on its veranda.
If that is the case, I would recommend to you that you take the time to think out and confirm an evacuation route for yourself. Furthermore, it would be good to participate in the fire-fighting drills that take place in your local community. The reason I say that is that you can also learn how to make a 119 call correctly and how to use a fire extinguisher.
Yes, I think I will participate the next time the opportunity arises. I think I should try my hand at anything that is going for the experience!
Ono Bldg. 3F, 17-15 Kandamatsunagacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0023