Abu Dhabi: Major fire incidents at home in winter months are caused by misuse of electrical appliances such as water heaters, which people leave it on 24 hours, an Abu Dhabi Civil Defence official has told Gulf News.

Overheated appliances spark fires through electrical short circuits leading to life-threatening situations.

Speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of the Aqdar World Summit in the capital, Mohammad Ali Al Marzouqi, a firefighter at Abu Dhabi Civil Defence, said that “In many cases of winter fire incidents, the civil defence found out that the household switched on the water heaters but forgot to turn it off after use, and the overheating caused electrical short circuit.”

“Now we are in the winter season, when residents utilise different electrical equipments care should be taken to use them properly and prevent fire incidents. Water heaters automatically get switched off, but sometime a malfunction creates havoc. As a precautionary measure, a household should turn it off after use,” he said.

Now, we are in the winter season when water heaters are used frequently. Water heaters automatically get switched off, but sometimes a malfunction may prevent this from happening. As a precaution, turn them off after use.

- Mohammad Ali Al Marzouqi, Abu Dhabi Civil Defence

Leaving water heaters always on, oil deposits in exhaust fans, random electrical installations and storing LPG cylinders near flammable sources are the cause of most fire incidents at home, he said.

The water heaters consume too much electricity as well, so if you use it wisely it will save electricity bill as well as the family from any fire incidents, he said. He urged residents to take precautions in the kitchen.

CO2 Fire extinguishers

Many people don’t know which kind of fire extinguisher to use in case of electrical fire incidents. Some people even throw water on it at their own peril as the water can kill them instantly by conducting electrical currents, he said.

“In case of electrical fires, put it out only using CO2 fire extinguishers. If residents use liquid or powered extinguishers, that can pose a danger to their lives,” Al Marzouqi said.

Mohammad Ali Al Marzouqi, a firefighter at Abu Dhabi Civil Defence. Image Credit: Anwar Ahmad/Gulf News

The CO2 extinguishers are usually the main type provided in computer server rooms. They are also used to put out Class B fires (flammable liquids, such as paint and petroleum). The CO2 extinguishers smother the fire by removing the oxygen that is needed to burn.

Exhaust fan

In most fire incidents, flames start in the kitchen because of leakage in gas cylinders, inappropriate usage of electrical equipment or heavy deposit of grease on exhaust fans.

“A lot of oil particles mixed with dust get deposited on the electric motor and wings of exhaust fans in the kitchen during cooking. When the deposit gets heavy, it can catch a fire with the smallest spark,” Al Marzouqi said.

A Civil Defence stall at the Aqdar World Summit raised awareness for students, youngsters, families and visitors about fire safety at home, buildings, villas and desert camping.