Home safety in India
Safety at home in India is the subject on this page. We provide a guidelines to various aspects of home safety in India, please click on any item of Indian home safety subjects listed below to take you directly to a detailed explanation of that safety subject.
Electrical safety at home in India starts with installing the best electrical wiring and switchgear in the house. Some essential electrical safety devices should be installed. There are three types of Electrical Protection Devices which should be used in the home main electric switch boards. All of these devises are explained below, and it is highly recommended that at least a Residual Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB) be installed in every house, for protection against personal electrocution.
Mini Circuit breakers or an MCB
In the old days we had fuses which used to ‘blow’ or melt and disconnect the electrical line when there was an overload or shorting in any electrical equipment. Now instead of a fuse we have what are called ‘Mini Circuit breakers’ or an MCB, which ‘trips’ or switches off the electric current. The Circuit breakers can be reset or switched on, once the problem is solved. Circuit breakers are available with different Amps or electrical current ratings.
Residual-Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB)
RCCB or Residual-Current Circuit Breaker monitors the outgoing and return current in the phase and neutral wires. Whenever it detects a sudden difference in the outgoing and incoming current, it switches the whole power supply off. The advantage with the RCCB is that it prevents people from being electrocuted and being injured and/or dying. It will also protect against electrical short circuits and the resulting fires.
Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker or an ELCB
Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker or an ELCB is also known as ground fault circuit interrupters or GFCI in some countries. ELCBs are specialised type of Electrical Safety devise that disconnects the main electrical supply in case there is any electrical leaks. ELCB is the older system that disconnects the power supply in case current or voltage is detected on its earth wiring. ELCB is a device that prevents electrocution of people and prevents short circuits from turning into a fire
Fire and Gas leaks in Indian Kitchens are the greatest dangers that have to be avoided. Some home safety tips in the kitchen are as follows:
Indian cooking has to heat masalas in hot oil and there is always a danger of the fire spreading to the pan. Small oil fires, in a frying pan for example, are best tackled by first turning off the gas to the burner and then putting or sliding gently a metal lid to cover the burning oil in the pan. You should use a 'Pakkada' to hold the lid, otherwise you may burn your hand. If you do not have a metal lid handy, a stainless steel plate or even a ceramic plate could be used. Remember, never try to put out an oil fire in the pan with water. If you do so, the water literally explodes into steam in the hot oil fire and will throw the burning oil all over the kitchen including some on the person throwing the water. So be very, very careful, never try to put out an oil fire with water. Stay calm and do not panic, and make sure you turn off the burner.
To protect against fires in the kitchen or anywhere else in the house, you must have a small fire extinguisher for kitchen prominently placed just outside the door of the kitchen, preferably mounted on the wall just outside the kitchen door. This is because for safety, it is always best to rush out of the kitchen in case of a fire and the kitchen gets full of smoke. Grab the extinguisher mounted outside and then decide whether to go in again to the kitchen or to use the extinguisher standing at the kitchen door and aiming the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire from a safe distance (about 3 meters). In the worst case scenario, after emptying the contents of the extinguisher into the kitchen, just close the door and call the emergency number.
The best kitchen fire extinguisher would be an ABC Class fire extinguisher. Most of the fires in kitchens are grease or oil fires in the frying pan and a suitable small fire extinguisher for kitchen will be a 1Kg size ABC class fire extinguisher. An ABC class extinguisher is the best choice for a house, since it can be used on any fires, be it in the kitchen or any fire in the house involving paper, clothes, furniture or whatever.
The video below demonstrates the correct use of a fire extinguisher
Watch this video on the proper use of kitchen fire extinguishers by an officer of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Fire extinguishers are very useful in putting out a fire, provided you know how to use it. Stay about 2 Meters (6 to 8 feet) away from the fire when operating the fire extinguisher, don't go too close to the fire while using a fire extinguisher. Be careful when using a fire extinguisher on burning oil in a vessel. The fire extinguisher releases the fire fighting medium as a jet with high pressure and it may throw the burning oil out of the burning vessel. So the first option should always be to contain the fire with a lid. The fire extinguisher becomes an option, if the burning oil has already spread out of the cooking vessel.
It is important not to have your clothes to catch fire. For this, while cooking make sure that your clothes a securely tucked in, so that there is no chance of loose ends going over the burner. An apron is a good way to stay safe.
In the event of clothes catching fire, and it cannot be put out immediately, then the best solution is to immediately lie down on the floor, with the burning portion under you between you and the floor to smother the flames. If the fire spreads to the front and back, then rolling over and over is the best solution to put it off.
Never keep flammable materials like paper, plastics, cloth, etc. next or near a burner. Make sure that long handles, like that of frying pans, do not stick out of the burner towards you. This is to avoid the chance accidentally hitting it, and tipping it over.
Safe use of Kitchen gas burners in India, Be safe with cooking gas
Cooking gas originally has no smell, but a strong smelling substance, Ethyl Mercaptan, which possesses a strong distinctive and unpleasant odor, is added to cooking gas so that people can smell if there is a leak of cooking gas. Cooking gas forms an explosive mixture with air and is very, very dangerous. There are two types of cooking gases, Liquid Petroleum Gas – LPG and Compressed Natural Gas – CNG. CNG is usually piped to houses. LPG is compressed to form a liquid at high pressure and supplied to the houses in cylinders of different weights. Some basic cooking gas safety tips are as follows:
Make sure that the LPG cylinders you get from the supplier does not look damaged. Secondly make sure that the connecting hose is in a good condition - not cut or melted due to heat. All connections of the system must be checked with a soap solution (no bubbling at the joints when soap solution is brushed on it). The gas regulator must be a good one and should be changed at the recommended intervals. Installing a kitchen gas leak detector, an LPG or CNG gas detector is a good practice.
If you smell gas in the kitchen, do not use any electrical switches – this could cause a spark which can ignite a gas-air mixture . First thing to do is to close the main valve of the LPG cooking gas cylinder. Then open windows and doors to the outside of the kitchen, and leave the kitchen closing the main door behind you. Your next duty is to warn everyone else in the house and neighbors of the problem. Then slowly open the kitchen door and leave it slightly open so that air can flow through the kitchen and remove all the leaked gas. After some time, if there is no gas smell in the kitchen, then it is safe to return and work in the kitchen.
Ventilation and air circulation in kitchen
While cooking in the kitchen, the oxygen in the air is being used up rapidly by the burning flames producing Carbon Dioxide and a small portion of Carbon Monoxide, which is a poisonous gas. Cooking also makes fumes of the cooking oil and these vapours condense on kitchen surfaces to form an extremely tough film that sticks like glue. If you are breathing in this air, it means that this glue like film may be forming in your lungs!! So it is extremely important that you have proper ventilation and fresh air circulation in your kitchen.
The best option for ventilating the kitchen is a Kitchen chimney Hood on top of the cooking area with good electric fan sucking and throwing the burnt smokey cooking air to the outside of the Kitchen.
Some kitchen chimney hoods have a filter and just re-circulate the air in the kitchen. This gets rid of some of the smells and oil fumes, but still keeps the burnt gases in the kitchen, including poisonous Carbon Monoxide. If no fresh air is coming into the kitchen while cooking, then the kitchen will get hot and stuffy in minutes and it is bad for your health ......More
How to avoid fire at home
Some of the steps which can be taken to the reduce chances of a fire in the house are as follows:
- Carpets can spread a fire throughout the house very quickly. Make sure that the material of the carpet is not flammable or that it is treated with a fire retardant chemical approved for use in homes. Similarly curtains should also be not of a flammable material. Curtains, sofa upholstery, etc can be treated with fire retardant chemicals to prevent it from catching fire. Fire retardant chemicals are special chemicals available from specialist suppliers. They can easily be found in your locality through internet searches, yellow pages, etc.
- Manufacturers of textiles are now incorporating the fire retardancy into their material while it is being manufactured. So check for fire retarded textile materials, especially furnishing cloth, while shopping.
- Sofas, Beds, chairs, etc. are now available with fire resistant materials. It is wise to use such furniture in the house. Syntetic fabrics can catch fire very easily, so it is best to avoid synthetic fabrics for furnishings. Cotton fabrics do not catch fire that easily as synthetic fabrics. Woolen fabrics are actually fire resistant and in the earlier days firefighters used to wear woolen clothing when fighting fires.
- Avoid a class of fire retardants known as ‘Brominated flame retardants’, called PBDE's. These brominated flame retardants are said to build up in the human body with most of what is absorbed not going away but remaining in the body and causing slow poisoning.
Slippery Floors in the house
These days it is fashionable to have ceramic tiles or marble and other polished stones as the flooring for homes. This looks fantastic and is easy to clean and maintain. But the down side of it is that it can be very slippery, especially when wet. These floors are very hard and falling on them does hurt, sometimes causing broken limbs or even a broken skull.
Respect the old saying “Accidents are just waiting to happen”. So it is our responsibility to take as many precautions as possible to avoid accidents. For floors it is best to have anti-skid or anti-slip materials. If the flooring is already done, then there are some specialist contractors who make the flooring anti-slip by applying a special coating which does not take the shine away. Some of the chemicals used are clear polyurethane varnish, water based acrylic coatings, etc. Also check about silicone rubber floor tiles. They look very nice, does not slip and is a very inert and chemical resistant material and will last a long time. Silicone rubber has no harmful health effects, in fact surgical gloves and artifical breast enlargement inserts are made with silicone rubber.
While talking about slipping, make sure that the furniture in the house does not have sharp edges and pointed protrusions, which stab you like a dagger if you happen to fall on them.