Commentary: Avoiding Harmattan Fire This Season

Commentary: Avoiding Harmattan Fire This Season

There is no doubt that the harmattan season, in its usual characteristic, has been biting hard on people. While some like it with its chilly mornings and nights, others, with hands on the jar, are patiently waiting for its end.

Harmattan season has many merits and demerits. Many fruits and agricultural produce are mostly harvested during the period. On the other hand, auto accidents are common due to harmattan haze which reduces visibility. Harmattan season is equally synonymous with wild fire.

Unfortunately, reports of such fire incidents have long been trickling in with their disastrous consequences. In most cases, human lives have been terminated and billions of naira worth of goods and property destroyed. It is discouraging however, to know that most of these disasters are not acts of God but rather the products of human errors and carelessness. For instance, some of the fire episodes are reportedly caused by candle light and cigarette stud which were not put off, while others are as a result of faulty electric connection.

Risky acts such as storing of petroleum products at homes and reckless use of candle, cooking gas and stove at homes are common causes of fire outbreaks in our society. Also, many people close at work or leave home without ensuring that all electrical appliances are shut down to prevent outbreak of fire in case of power surge. It is also dangerous to keep matches and other ignition materials within the reach of children. Equally, faulty electrical wiring, damaged electrical appliances, heating gadgets and unhealthy use of fireworks are major causes of fire outbreak.

However, harmattan helps some agricultural activities to flourish. Farmers also use the period to clear farms and get them ready for planting. But, bush burning should be done with utmost caution to avoid setting farms or houses ablaze. Careless handling of fire during this period can cause damage of unimaginable proportion since fire spreads quickly.

Unfortunately, bush burning often results in severe losses to farmers as they repeatedly find it difficult to curtail the rage of the fire, aided by the harmattan haze. Many rural communities have lost buoyant and prosperous farmlands to the rage of uncontrollable harmattan fire, thereby subjecting the natives, whose mainstay of income is farming, to avoidable pains and anguish.

To stem the tide of further fire disasters therefore, it has now become crucial for all offices and homes to have efficient fire extinguishers. This is in addition to having functional knowledge of their usages. It is also imperative for everybody to acquire safety information in respect of fire outbreaks.

People using gas for domestic cooking need to be more vigilant. Hot ashes and charcoals must be properly put off with water, while cigarette smokers should properly discard cigarette butts. Use of fireworks has been banned. Thus, people should do away with them, especially this season.

Additionally, well-meaning individuals, government agencies and organizations need to embark on fire safety and emergency management enlightenment. With the level of painful losses experienced as a result of needless fire outbreaks in the country, it has now become decisive for all stakeholders, including religious bodies, corporate organizations, schools, political and community leaders, public servants, NGOs and individuals to toe the path of safety in their daily activities. Enlightenment advocacy on fire prevention and management must not be left in the hands of government alone. Everyone must be involved.

Consequently, every adult resident must educate young ones on all safety measures in order to reduce to the barest minimum the incidence of fire in the country. Fire fighters are our brothers and sisters who have chosen to take on such a delicate job in order to safeguard everyone. We must do everything humanly possible to assist them in positively discharging their duties.

Above all, gas vendors within residential areas should be meticulous. Gas filling shops should not be allowed near residential houses to avoid explosion and other negative consequences.

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