Fire safety is no joke, especially in a city that lacks fire escapes and alarms in residential buildings. Teaching your kids fire safety could save their lives.
No matter what country you live in, fire safety and awareness is particularly important. In China, where standards of safety and equipment are not meeting the highest of standards, this is an even bigger concern. While in the West, new tenants may not need to worry about fire escapes because city regulations require them, your family should be aware of such facilities in your home and how to deal with an emergency.
According to the Shanghai Fire department, there were 4, 573 fires in 2010 alone. One of the most memorable and devastating fires in Shanghai took place that same year, where 53 people were killed in a high-rise residential building in Jing’an.
The deadly accident was caused by welders while the building was under renovation and the bamboo scaffolding caught fire. Ithas called into question the standards of construction sites and many blamed untrained workers and cheap construction equipment.
Inevitably, there was a backlash against the city’s fire safety protocols on social media after the Jing’an fire, and the government and state council assured they would be looking into more thorough fire safety inspections, particularly of residential construction sites.
New York Times investigators found that sprinkler systems are not mandatory in residential buildings in Shanghai, where a majority of the city’s 20 million people reside. According to a 2011 Decree of Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, fire safety regulations were improved and public buildings over a certain size must install fire safety equipment. However, in residential buildings, alarm devices, emergency broadcasts and fire control devices are subject to the proprietor’s decision and not required, although “it is encouraged to install the self-contained fire detection alarm in the household of residential buildings.”
An advocate for fire safety in Shanghai, Gail Brekelmans lost her daughter Nina in a devastating house fire in Washington, DC last year. “We came back to Shanghai with a new awareness [after the accident] and realized there were no smoke detectors in our apartment complex. I brought it up to other residents in the building and they hadn’t noticed either. We are so used to smoke detectors being there that we don’t always look for them. I think it’s so important that people take action and for a few RMB they can [buy a smoke detector], check for escape routes, or do whatever it takes [to be prepared].”
Tips for Safety
- Make sure fire alarms are installed in every room of your home. This is easy to do on your own and fire alarms can be found on Baopals or we suggest bringing them from your home country if you are due for a visit soon. They are easy to install and are battery operated.
- Create a fire escape plan with your kids. Talk as a family for the best routes out of your home in case of a fire.
- If there’s a fire, get out and stay out. Electronics and personal items are all replaceable.
- If you are on a high floor, order a fire ladder online and keep it in an easily accessible place in your home near a window.
- Check your electrical cords and outlets. Extension cords should be used as a temporary solution and not as a permanent electrical outlet.