Women-children worst victims of winter fire

By Mahmudul Hasan

DHAKA, Jan 2, 2017 (BSS) � Hafiza, not the real name, went for a nap after lunch, leaving some clothes hanging in the kitchen to get dry by heat of stove-fire. When she woke up, the door of her bedroom was on fire, originated from the kitchen beside.

Lower portion of my body especially my legs got burned as I ran through the fire for safety. Though I am alive to talk about my agony, but the pain I suffered is indescribable. I was in hospital for more than a month, said the 40-year-old housewife from capital's Mirpur area while talking about the incident that took place in last winter, which turned her life upside down.

According to a statistics of National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery (NIBPS) of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), on an average 450 to 500 people come to the unit for treatments in this specialized unit in winter each year.

In the urban areas we have a bad habit of hanging clothes in the kitchen to dry with the stove on. You are just one light breeze away from a piece of clothing dropping on the open fire and causing an accident. In the rural area, many people try to get heat in the winter by lighting some woods or hay. This practice too can cause fire accident anytime. As most of the time, it is the women and children remain in home, they fall victims to such accidents, said resident physician Dr Partha Shankar Paul of NIBPS.

Dr Paul suggested for avoiding such dangerous practices to keep the fire accidents at bay.

If such accident arises and someone gets burned, you should first pour lot of water on the injury to reduce the effect of burning. Then the victim should be taken to hospital quickly. Pouring water can be called as a major treatment in burning, he added.

Even Fire Service and Civil Defense emphasizes on extra awareness in winter to avoid fire hazards.

Most fire incidents take place December-May period as the weather remains dry during this time. A little awareness however, can keep us safe, said AKM Shakil Newaz, director (operation and maintenance) of fire service.

In the urban areas, people use gas-stove for cooking. During the winter, we naturally keep the windows of house closed during the night time, in many cases creating a pocket of gas leaked from the stove-line. In the morning, when we turn any electric switch on or try to light the stove, the first spark can cause a huge ball of fire, Newaz added.

The fire official also stressed on examining the electric cables in the house once in a year for sure to find out whether there is any leakage or something like. He also blamed low mentality of keeping the stove-fire on to save a matchstick and littering lit cigarettes for fire accidents.

According to our statistics, a total of 8,108 fire accidents took place throughout the country in 2014. Most of these took place in winter and women and children fell victims to these accidents more in comparison with men. But just a little awareness can keep us save from fire accidents in winter, Newaz concluded.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)