How to Protect Yourself and Your Home From Fire
Mumbai sees an unusually high number of fires and other disasters every year. While experts have not been able to pinpoint a single cause, haphazard development, lack of fire and electrical audits are some common reasons. Keeping this in mind, Moneylife Foundation had organized a special session on ‘Do’s and Dont’s of Fire Safety’ by Adv Bapoo Malcolm and Shivajirao Bagat, deputy controller of Civil Defence Organistion.  
 
Adv Malcolm began the session by providing an overview of electricity and how it can work against us if not handled with proper care. Today, electricity is one of the leading causes of death and combined with fires due to short circuits or faulty wiring it can be quite deadly. 
 
In his talk, Adv Malcolm spoke about the common causes of electrical accidents such as use of defective tools, cables or equipment, improper installation of electrical equipment, old wiring, flammable materials left near exposed electrical wiring, and loose connectors. 
 
 
He also shared simple rules that one must follow while handling electricity such as using wires with appliances of proper capacity and insulation, not overloading the electrical circuit, using appropriate circuit breakers and only using appliances with the ISI mark. 
 
“Do not use the common yet wrong practices of inserting too many plugs into a single socket, using temporary wiring or sticking bare wires directly into a socket. Careless mistakes such as these can be a quick stop solution at the moment, but will most certainly prove lethal,” Adv Malcolm added. 
 
 
Covering every aspect of a fire, Mr Bagat from CDO, started the talk explaining how a fire starts and spreads by filling up any space with thick black smoke within minutes. A person trapped inside a place on fire has a very short amount of time to make critical decisions on escape.
 
Mr Bagat advised, “With thick black smoke it will become very difficult for a person to clearly see their surroundings and identify safe pathways of exit. You should try your best to escape from heat before it starts getting dark due to the heavy smoke.” 
 
Once a fire has started, life threatening toxic gases are bound to be released. Breathing even a small amount of smoke and such toxic gases can make a person drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. The odourless, colourless fumes can lull you to sleep even before the flames reach you door, he added. 
 
During his talk, Mr Bagat repeatedly stressed that time is precious and every second counts during a fire outbreak. He says, “This precious time should not be wasted gathering your valuables because your life is more precious thant the valuables.” 
 
 
Some of the basic tips that he offered were to stay calm, not to immediately panic and start running. “Your first step should be to escape out of the premises and then proceed to calling for help. Once you have ensured that there is no one left behind and a safe path of exit is open, you should also attempt to close all doors and windows on your way out. While escaping, only use routes that have been specifically designated for that purpose and always use staircases instead of elevators,” he added.
 
According to Mr Bagat, if you are in a situation where you are trapped in a smoke filled area, it is advised to lie down and keep your nose close to the ground, then crawl towards an exit point. “If you are trapped in your room and do not see a clear path out, shut the door and block any gaps that might let smoke or fumes through. Gaps under a door should be covered by a rug, blanket or any other piece of clothing available nearby. It is important to note, that when you are trapped in a room, under no circumstances should you jump out of the window. Instead, signal or shout for help to draw the attention of rescue personnel on the ground.” 
 
These days, especially in Mumbai there have been quite a few fires in high-rise buildings. Speaking about such fires, Mr Bagat said, “If a fire does break out in a building in your flat, in most circumstances you should be safe in your own flat. But if your flat is affected by the heat or smoke, leave at once while closing doors and windows behind you.” He also spoke at length about the various prevention systems such as smoke, heat and gas detection systems, overhead fire sprinkler system, fire pump and underground water tanks.
 
 
When speaking about fire safety in high rise buildings, Mr Bagat talked about following the rules and regulations as laid down in the National Building Code (2005/2016) and the Maharashtra Fire Prevention & Life Safety measure Act (2006/2009). There are a few basic rules that every high rise resident should strictly follow - ashtrays for indoor smoking, waste receptacles to be emptied regularly, correct rated wires to be used for all electrical appliances, faulty appliances to be repaired or replaced immediately, etc. Most important of all, emergency exit doors should be kept free from obstructions and safety equipment should be maintained in high standards with checks at regular intervals. Every floor in a high rise building should have an “Emergency Evacuation Plan” placed at strategic locations, indicating the exits that are available on that particular floor. 
 
Although fire evacuation drills have not become mandatory, Mr Bagat feels that buildings should conduct them at regular intervals, so that residents become familiar with the emergency exit routes available to them. 
 
Being thorough in his talk, Mr Bagat also shared the most effective way of contacting the local Fire Brigade in case of emergency. When calling fire services at 101 or Police at 100, he advises, “Always remain calm, even while informing about the incident to the fire services. Tell them the name, exact address, a nearby landmark and give contact numbers. As far as possible, inform them about the type of emergency and the shortest accessible route to the incident site.” 
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COMMENTS

Krishnamoorthy Nataraj

3 days ago

Good article that reiterates most important aspects of fire safety.

Arpita Padiyar

4 days ago

useful info

How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Deliver Your Message Effectively
Today, social media has become increasingly popular with all sorts of people from students, policymaker to politicians and the public expressing themselves on several issues or even get things done. However, many users struggle to understand what social media is and how they could use it. Moneylife Foundation had invited Keya Madhvani Singh, head for entertainment partnerships at Twitter India to explain how the power of twitter can be understood and harnessed to deliver a message effectively. 
 
Keya started the presentation by giving a brief overview of social media platforms. “Twitter is what’s happening in the world and what people are talking about”…
 
She explained how people usually come to Twitter in a discovery mind set, looking for what is new and for great content or stories.
 
 
She then proceeded to explain the step-by-step process of using Twitter. Simplifying the process of filling out the profile page, she shared three easy steps, “describe what you do and your values; tell your followers what to expect from following you and explain your product or service with a link to your company profile”.
 
After briefly explaining the basics of Twitter and explaining the differences in reply, retweet and like, she took the attendees through a simple process of composing a tweet. 
 
She said, “Basically, a tweet should have an active statement - one that lets people know what you think, it should have a link or a hashtag - to explain what you want the users to do and finally an image or video to convey how you want people to feel.” 
 
“Even with the increased word count of 280 characters a tweet should always be brief and should convey your message effectively. An image in support of your tweet can often help in keeping a tweet brief. Finally, Twitter is about having a conversation and new users should follow trends on the platform to ‘plug into’ an on-going conversation,” Keya added. 
 
During her presentation, Keya also shared few examples of ideal Twitter users that make the most out of the social media platform.
 
 
Responding to a question on misuse of Twitter platform, Keya says,"We have certain tools to curb abuse on Twitter. Unlike WhatsApp, here on Twitter, a user can report a tweet, block or mute those handles that may be spreading wrong information or fake news. Once a user report about a handle or tweet, our teams review it and take necessary action."
 
She also clarified that Twitter has stopped verified accounts for individuals. "However, we have not appointed or authorised any agency to verify accounts. If you come across such agency or person, then we request you to share it with us," Keya said.
 
According to the Twitter India's Head for Entertainment Partnership, Twitter is platform for communication but it is not replacement for police, fire or civic authorities. However, she says, more and more authorities are coming on the platform and using it effectively for better communication with general public. She shared how Mumbai Police are using Twitter effectively to help citizens after receiving information and complaints.
 
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“Govt Will Soon Issue Regulatory Guidelines for Retirement Homes,” says Hardeep Sing Puri
“We had taken note of Moneylife Foundation’s Report on Retirement Homes and had completed consultation process. In few days, I am going to write to chief ministers of all states and soon we will issue guidelines for retirement homes in India,” says Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs (Independent Charge). He was speaking at the 9th Anniversary of Moneylife Foundation at Mumbai. 
 
He said, “We are happy to use the Report and follow up notes shared by Sucheta Dalal, Founder-Trustee of Moneylife Foundation and carried out due process. The process has not gone past draft and consultation. Since property matters are state subject, soon I will be writing to CMs of all states with our guidelines.” (Read: Regulation of Retirement Homes under Consideration)
 
 
While taking about urban landscape and heritage, Mr Puri said, “Indian cities suffered due to earlier policies that were focussed more on rural civilisation, though cities have been the backbone for the our economy for centuries. When India became an independent country, 17% of our population of 300 million lived in urban areas. As per the 2011 Census, 31% of a 1.25 billion population lives in urban areas. The rate at which we are urbanising, there will be 600 million people living in urban spaces by 2031. India’s gross domestic product (GDP) from agriculture is just 13%-14%, while the same from urban areas is almost 60%. Most of India lives in rural areas but the contribution of agriculture to the GDP is very small. This in other words mean, people from the rural areas leaving their shelters behind and are picking up their bags and heading to wherever there are economic opportunities. Now, there is a choice. You can have 600 million people living in dire conditions or you can have planned urbanisation.”
 
Citing examples of Ujjain, Dwarka and other historical cities, Mr Puri says we have been building Smart Cities for thousands of years—our forts, palaces, the technology used to keep them cool. “Where all of this has gone? What we did wrong? Especially, after Independence what we had done to at least maintain our heritage in planning and development of cities,” he asked.
 
He says, "We were not smart enough to realise the potential of what urbanisation could bring about, one of the most significant new development that took place recently is the embracing of urbanisation. This government is investing and spending more in cities than has ever been done in this country.”
 
Focusing on the ultimate aim for improving the ease of living, and consequently the quality of life for each and every city-dweller of India, the minister said that all initiatives by the government, the missions and programmes are aimed in that direction. The investments required in urban areas for a 20-year period between 2012-13 and 2031-32 is estimated to be Rs39 lakh crore.
 
The 90 "smart cities" selected so far have indicated a total investment of Rs1.9 lakh crore in their proposals. The central government would be giving financial support to the smart cities mission to the extent of Rs48,000 crore over five years - that is Rs100 crore per city per year for development of 100 cities throughout the year.
 
Mr Puri also highlighted importance of the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015. AMRUT scheme focuses on establishing infrastructure that could ensure adequate robust sewage networks and water supply for urban transformation by implementing urban revival projects.
 
 
Talking about Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), the minister said, “It has been 70 years since Independence and we did not have an independent regulator before (RERA). Nowhere in the world have I come across a situation where a sector as big as the real estate does not have a regulator. For eight years this legislation was lying around.”
 
“Since realty is a state subject, implementation of RERA is their responsibility. So RERA is not successful in all states and some states, including very progressive in other matters, are lagging behind in bringing transparency in real estate regulation. However, we are receiving very good response of MahaRERA,” Mr Puri says.
 
Replying to questions after his speech, the union minister also highlighted the importance of public transport. He says, “We are focussing more and more on moving vehicles. Cars are moving but not people. There is no decision making in public transportation. For example, we have been requesting the Delhi government to buy new buses for public transportation, but they are not taking the decision. We feel people should be given choice and for that public transportation plays and important role.”
 
 
During the program, Mr Puri also released Moneylife Foundation's "Study Report on Reverse Mortgage". The study report is supported by Housing Development Finance Corp (HDFC). Two bankers, Shrinivas Marathe and Pradeep Bhave did the research for the Study.
 
"Due to poor financial literacy and extremely high property prices in India (relative to the income levels), millions of savers are likely to retire with a large chunk of their savings locked up in the apartments that they live in. They may not be poor in terms of net worth, but would not have the cash required to meet the rising cost of retirement living. In other words, they would be asset rich but cash poor. This is where Reverse Mortgage Reverse Mortgage is useful," the study report says.
 
 
A reverse mortgage is a type of home loan for older homeowners that requires no monthly mortgage payments but gives them a monthly payment instead. 
 
The study report includes the demand and supply scenario, analysis of the currently available reverse mortgage products, analysis of the present regulatory framework, misconceptions about the scheme and incentives required to make reverse mortgage a popular product for both customers and banks, and how reverse mortgage schemes can be made affordable and popular among borrowers and lenders.
 
 
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COMMENTS

R Balakrishnan

1 month ago

Kudos to Sucheta and Debashish . Awesome energy and persistence.

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