16 June 2008
Probo Hindarto’s note:
Family, is a great asset in our lives, so we better take care of them at best. Healthy house is a house with safety feature, like fire safety feature. Don’t get sorry one day, let us see again whether our house is quite safe from fire threads.
With many cases of house in fire, we need to get our houses ready for possibilities of fire. It is of course not something happened in purpose, but the house can be planned to minimal the effect of fire that could be happened.
Fire happens, often because of carelessness, because of everyday equipment (like electronic devices), because of non standard devices, also because of bad design or easily burned material. Most fire happens because of short circuit, exploded gas, carelessly thrown cigarettes, etc. A house concept can help prevent fire to become bigger and spread. At least, fire will be blocked by relatively fireproof materials.
Photo by Miles Eliason, stock.xchange
This time, we know many kinds of building materials, many of them are easily burned, but many are fireproof, especially new fabricated materials like composite walls, steel, etc. For example, brick wall is not easily burned, while wood is burned faster.
Fire also produces thick smoke that will cause disorientation and panic when it happens, makes the condition even worse. Good ventilation will reduce the impact of thick smoke.
Building house, the material choosing, walls, roofs, windows, etc
Choosing building material that is fireproof, can be done more easily, because kinds of materials vary quickly. To build a house that is more fireproof, we need to choose fireproof materials, for instance; brick walls is more fireproof than wood walls, gypsum is more fireproof than laminated wood, aluminum frames are more fireproof than wood ones, and so on. This may cause more building cost, but for long investment, this may be of consideration.
Staying using easily burned materials, maybe because of limited budget, we should anticipate design not to spread fire easily. This case may be found in houses like in 3rd world countries that are using cheap material to build house. For instance in wood house, kitchen should be specially designed, to make stoves more save. Easy way is by ‘isolating’ wood walls and floor, by making cement support layer, or layering the floor and wall with clay covered zinc. Make sure that the stove stands quite safely from easily burned materials, like staying wood equipments away from stove.
Parts to consider in fireproof house concept
Important parts to consider are the plan and electrical system, part of the kitchen with stove, and easily burned parts like furniture with fabric cushion. Electrical system must be maintained and checked to stay in good condition, wires also should be replaced at least every 5 years. Use high standard cables for active electrified wires, and do not connect many wires. Use Mini Circuit Breaker for more safety.
Room arrangements due to fireproof house. For instance bathroom, kitchen.
Room arrangements has a role in supporting fireproof house concept and save dwellers. Best arrangement is that the house should be surrounded by garden if possible, for evacuation purpose. If a house doesn’t have surrounding garden, make sure accesses are easy and not only one door. Provide balcony at the upper floor as evacuation alternative and provide emergency ladders like rope ladders and side ladders from steel.
Rooms can be separated with partitions that can easily be opened, like easily opened door, even broken when fire happens. Make sure the windows are not fenced strongly so if needed, dwellers can get out of the windows. Even windows can be made like doors.
Bathroom has to be placed in relatively easy place to reach water when fire. But don’t try to stop fire with water if it’s caused by electrical short circuit, because the danger of electric shock. If possible, separate kitchen from other rooms, at least make sure kitchen has good air connection with garden (applicable in tropical houses).
Designing rooms more specifically
Kitchen need special design, like put away fire sources from easily burned matters. Kitchen set design also connected to safety. Good kitchen design should be designed by professional interior design and always consult the safety feature of your cooking place. If you make your own kitchen interior, try to make simple kitchen design that avoid you from design mistakes. Use technology and safety tested equipments.
Check the condition of stoves and gas pipes continuously. Do not use old and rusty stove, and check the condition of your gas pipes or tubes at assembly. Kitchen should have wind holes at the bottom of the room because gas has more heavy weight than ordinary air so that gas can get out of the hole. Don’t forget to give wire so the rat will not come in to the house. If possible, put gas tubes outside kitchen with special place.
Bedrooms should be paid attention to burning danger because it is the room we spend our time most. Make sure the room has an evacuation possibility at fire happening, like making quite large window. Bedrooms should have good ventilation system.
If there are two or more storey in a house, use emergency stairs at balcony, which can be easily accessed from every room. It means, balcony has a role as evacuation device.
At the design process of the house, electric system should be planned by an expert, that is mechanical electrical expert(s) who can help you lower the risk of short circuit electricity of the house. Architect alone is not sufficient to design electrical system. Mechanical electrical professionals have the education background for this matter.
Tips on making the house safer from fire
Make sure your electric devices are in good condition and not explosive, not easily short-circuited, not too hot, not burdened too much. In using equipments like electric stoves, make sure the device function well and nothing wrong with the cables. Electrical systems and wires needed to be re-checked and replaced whenever necessary and frequently. Consult with electrical professionals about the electrical system of your house.
Photo from stock.xchange
In using electrical devices, it is not safe to use many equipment on one stop. See if there is any sign of wires from burning, melting, blacking, etc.
At the kitchen, make sure the stove is in quite range from easily burned materials, place gas tubes in dry, clean and save place, if possible, outside with special box. If there is any sign of gas leaking, we better open all windows and contact professionals or fire fighters to overcome the problem.
For family with smokers, do not smoke carelessly, aside of the health danger from smoking. Use ashtray and do not leave cigarettes burning. Be careful in throwing away the used cigarettes.
by Probo Hindarto
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