Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fire outbreak………a chain reaction

Fire has a lot of uses but if not properly contained can be a source of damage and loss. Fire is basically caused by the chemical reaction between a fuel source, oxygen and heat. It is an oxidation- reduction chemical process of combustion involving rapid oxidation of the fuel source at an increased temperature to ignition point with release of energy, heat, light and gaseous by products.
In the past fire was represented by a triangle but is currently represented by a tetrahedron (4 sided geometric). All these elements must be present for a fire outbreak to occur.

1. Fuel (any substance that can undergo combustion) 
2. Heat (energy sufficient to release vapor from fuel causing ignition)
3. Oxidizing agent (air containing oxygen)
4. Chain reaction (an uninhibited exothermic reaction that produces ignition)

 Below is a breakdown of facts /statistics on some of the major fire outbreak from 2012 till Date.

·       January 2012: National Assembly in Abuja fire incident caused by electrical fault, no casualties.
·       June 2012: Nigeria Maritime Administration & Safety agency (NMASA) in Apapa, Lagos; properties destroyed but no casualties.
·       June 2012: Private property at Oworonshoki, Lagos fire started from obsolete PHCN service wire: 1 fatality, some serious injuries and loss of assets.
·       August 2012: fire incident at Lagos University teaching hospital, no casualties.
·       December 20th, 2012 fire at D-wing renovation site in MM International airport, Lagos, during welding activities; no casualties were recorded.
·       December 26th, 2012: A shop used to store fireworks in Jankara area of Lagos Island caused an explosion; 9 buildings destroyed and 30 serious injuries.
·       January 6th, 2013: fire in section of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Abuja.
·       January 8th, 2013: Okobaba, Lagos fire with property (shops and houses) loss.
·       January 8th, 2013: fire gutted a sawmill at Ebutta Metta in Lagos; no casualties.
·       January 9th, 2013: explosion of the badge during refueling at MRS jetty, Tin Can Island, Lagos.
·       January 9th, 2013: Palace of Alaafin of Oyo razed by fire due to electrical surge; property loss.
·       January 9th, 2013: Aluta market of Adekunle Alasin University, assets damage.
·       January 11th, 2013: Fire razed 300 houses in Ijawkiri in Nembe local government area of Bayelsa state, no casualties, property loss but possibly arson.
·       January 12th, 2013: Fire inferno at chemical and paints manufacturing firm BBC industries at Tema in Ghana, no casualties.
·       January 14th, 2013: Tanker explosion on the Bibiani-Kumasi highway killing the driver and his mate, burnt four (4) houses, four (4) shops and a drinking spot.
·       January 15th, 2013: Fire incident at “Mr. Price” close to entrance 1 of the Ikeja mall, Aluasa, Lagos, no casualties.
·       January 16th 2013: Fire outbreak on Chevron drilling rig at the Funiwa oil facility in North Apoi platform, there were casualties.
·       January 23rd, 2013: The recent Arepo fire outbreak in Ogun state during vandalization of NNPC pipelines; the fourth episode in less than 6months.
It is important to note that there are a lot more that were not recorded or reported but a sampling of the incidents recorded shows negligence as a key factor and most if not all the outbreaks could have been prevented or nipped at the bud- emergency response. The fire outbreak that occurred today in a nightclub in Santa Maria in Brazil further points to this fact.

The following are possible causes of a fire outbreak
  • ·       Arson
  • ·       Poor housekeeping
  • ·       Improper storage of chemicals and flammable solids and liquids
  • ·       Inadequate understanding of safe work practices
  • ·       Not conformance to standard or best practice procedures
  • ·       Inadequate supervision
Emergency preparedness:
Emergency preparedness and response remains a major proactive step in reducing casualty rate in a fire outbreak. Below is a succinct emergency preparedness plan.
  • ·       Conduct a fire risk assessment of the building or location which should be reviewed periodically
  • ·       Identify an emergency exit in a location, at least 2 ingress/egress point in the building
  • ·       Ensure adequate training of staff or members of family on the emergency response procedure
  • ·       Ensure you have fire fighting equipments available and people have been adequately trained
  • ·       Identify a muster point outside the building that is known to all.
  • ·       Ensure there is accountability so there can be a head count during after and emergency
  • ·       Provide adequate signage for all fire fighting tools, emergency response tools and exit points
  • ·       Provide call points, fire alarm, smoke detectors and sprinkler system for the building after assessment of potential hazards
  • ·       Provide emergency contact numbers such as fire service and post in strategic places
  • ·       Provide well stocked for aid box with trained first aiders with a ration of 1 to 25-50 people.
  • ·       Create awareness to the general public on the risks associated with fire
  • ·       Provide training for individuals undertaking high risk activities
Prevention of fire outbreak:
The practical way of preventing fires is ensuring proper housekeeping always ensure everything is put in its proper place and all sources of fuel should be properly stored and kept free from heat sources. The tetrahedron below indicates how to fight fire by eliminating any of the elements.

Emergency response in case of fire outbreak:
The most effective time to fight a fire is at the incipient stage - just when the fire is starting- between 8 to 30 seconds and only a trained fire fighter can achieve this. Fire can be classified based on the type of material on fire and it will also determine the type of extinguisher to use. With the high incidence of fire outbreak, it is imperative for all stakeholders to be aware of steps to take in a fire outbreak.
The fire outbreaks listed above and that which occurred in the early hours of today (27th January, 2013) at a nightclub in Brazil killing over 200 people and several injured leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
1. Are there adequate fire exits properly identified and labelled?
2. Is there an appropriate emergency procedure in place?
3. Are stakeholders trained in emergency evacuation response?
4. Do businesses and commercial owners ensure the safety procedures are put in place to ensure the safety of their customers in the case of emergency?
All these and many more should be adequately addressed in every home, office, business or commercial building and stakeholders should be adequately briefed on the available emergency response tools to ensure timely response to save lives.
What to do in the event of a fire outbreak?
1. Remain calm and walk briskly to the nearest exit to leave the building
2. Move to the fire assembly point.
3. If the room is filled with smoke, lie on the ground close to the wall and crawl out of the building; smoke is denser than air therefore it will not settle below – level of crawling.

Further reading:

Written by
En-pact Solutions Limited, 2013
Twitter: @OReese2

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Early Detection: Wearing pink for breast cancer awareness………Series 3

This episode on breast cancer awareness sets out to discuss the most important aspect of Breast Cancer prevention and control. The main aim of these awareness programs is to educate the public on Breast Cancer, its presence amongst us and the risk factors associated with it; in order to identify cases early on to enable prompt treatment of these invasive cells as well as avoid risk factors.

This is a call for all to work together to ensure we save our precious boobs from the invasiveness of these fast growing cells that can evade and weaken the immune system of a healthy human.

Early Detection: Being proactive with health means taking action to lower the chances of developing Breast Cancer. Research has proven over time that cancer can be cured and eradicated effectively if detected early with progressive treatment commencing immediately.
There are various stages of cancer from stage 0-4 depending on the invasiveness of the cancer, that means whether it is limited to one location or it has spread to other areas of the body. Breast cancer is classified into stages based on size of cancer, whether it is invasive or non-invasive, is it in the lymph nodes and has it spread to the other breast or other parts of the body.

The stage at which cancer is identified in the breast will usually determine the method of treatment and the likely outcome of the disease (the earlier the stage, the better the prognosis or outcome).

This topic will be addressed in three ways:

-The symptoms of Breast Cancer;
- Physical examination and
- Clinical screening.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer:
Most symptomatic lesions are found on the primary organ the breast, which can be on either one or both at the same time.
The presence of Breast Cancer is associated with certain easily identifiable symptoms.  These include but are not limited to lumps (feels like frozen pea); dimpling of skin; changes in breast size, shape or color; swelling, soreness or rash, redness or darkening, inverted or flat nipple; nipple discharge; new pain in one spot that does not go away; persistent itching, presence of bumps that resemble bug bites to mention a few.

Physical Examination:
This should be conducted immediately after each monthly menstrual period. To do this, check using the fingers up to the collarbone, breastbone over sides and armpit.  Record changes and check back in 2-3 weeks, if there is any abnormality, see a doctor.

Clinical Breast Screening:
Starting at the age of 20years, this should be conducted periodically. A mammogram is advised for women over 40years or for those younger but with a family history of breast cancer in a first degree relative.

Finally, statistics from the Cancer Research Institute shows that eight (8) out of 100 women in the US will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. 226,000 cases of invasive Breast Cancer were diagnosed in 2011 and 3 million Breast Cancer survivors now live longer healthier lives due to early detection.

Don’t wait any longer, start now. Practice proactive healthy living and preserve your priceless boobs. Taking these active steps and early detection can save lives.

Do something about breast cancer awareness, share with family, friends and all women around you.
We all have a role to play. I have taken action by writing this excerpt, what about you?????

Written by O’ Reese of En-pact Solutions Limited ,2013
Twitter: @OReese2

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Traffic Nightmare………impact on our health and the environment

Thursday the 15th of November 2012 started out just like any other day in Lagos with the normal routine of a working life; wake up at 4.30am, leave the house at 5.30am off to work to earn a daily bread. Work went well with series of meetings, got home early, watched a bit of TV then was relaxing with a glass of juice and cashew nuts when hubby came back exhausted. We were having our normal chitchat of the day’s event when he got a telephone call. His friend who was visiting from the United States called him, requesting he should meet him up just around the corner. He went to pick him up and brought him to the house, while I was still entertaining with some finger foods we were contemplating on what to have for dinner and later settled for an outing to have catfish pepper soup.

I have been in this town for over 5years but what I experienced that day cannot be forgotten in a hurry, we got to Maryland (Lagos mainland) at about 9pm and were heading towards CDM in Magodo (Lagos-Ibadan expressway) to drop him off at his hotel but the traffic was at a standstill. We were all perplexed at the cause of the traffic at that time but nobody had answers to our queries. There were rumors that a trailer carrying flammable products fell on the road blocking it although we never got around to actually sighting it. The traffic was really bad because we had people from different background stuck in the traffic ranging from workers; entrepreneurs, construction workers, vendors, school kids to mention a few.

I guess a lot of people in the commercial city of Lagos go through such horrendous traffic daily but do they know what they are exposed to? Let us see some facts on the impact of traffic on our health and the environment.
Congestion costs the economy a lot of money: Time spent in traffic is not available for other activities; unpredictable and unnecessarily long journeys add costs to business due to loss of productive man-hours and increased fuel consumption leads to additional costs as the most efficient speed for most vehicles is around 50 mph.
Traffic can cause air pollution and noise pollution.  In the UK, air pollution causes an estimated 24,000 premature deaths every year.

Noise Pollution: Vehicular traffic is the main source of disturbing environmental noise; increased amount of traffic noise transmits over greater distances. Noise and vibrations can affect people who live or work near busy roads or traffic-congested areas. This can cause stress, aggravate existing medical conditions and interfere with daily activities such as communication and concentration.

Air pollution:
Emissions from motor vehicle are released wherever vehicles are in use and are of particular concern in a traffic situation and other low speed circumstances. Emissions include particulate emissions from diesel engines, Nitric Oxide, volatile organic compounds, Carbon monoxide and various other hazardous air pollutants including benzene. Carbon dioxide is non-toxic to humans but is a major greenhouse gas emission.

Environmental Impact:
Traffic consumes energy, and generates noise and harmful emissions, which have a negative impact on the environment especially on the air quality. Motor vehicle emissions are an important contributor to the growth of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere although more polluting gases are released into the atmosphere by standing traffic also known as (hold-up). Other environmental impacts include:
  •     Roads can act as barriers to animal movement by altering the natural habitat of certain species therefore preventing migration that may eventually lead to their extinction.
  •       Heavy metals and petroleum products from vehicles can contaminate the land and ground water.
  •       Gases from the exhausts of vehicles contribute to global warming through the release of greenhouse gases
  •       Loss of valuable habitat of Flora and fauna when car parks and roads are marked out.
Health Impact:
The quality of the air we breathe is diminished mainly by traffic emissions, because the exhaust emissions are released at a low levelInhalation of greenhouse gases or concentrations of air pollutants can cause adverse respiratory health effects. Road dust kicked up by vehicles may trigger allergic reactions.
Congestion makes driving more unpleasant, and can put drivers in a bad mood. It is a major source of driver stress, and makes many people feel frustrated, irritated, angry, anxious, confused, aggressive and/or exhausted and less safety conscious. The amount of traffic, how well the road network functions, the different means of transport and the way they are utilized have a fundamental influence on the health, safety and attractiveness of the urban environment.

Some possible sustainable solutions to mitigate the negative impact of traffic congestion include but are not limited to:
  •       Public transportation system should be improved and accessible to all locations.
  •       Travel plans should include car sharing, use of public buses, cycling or walking.
  •       People should live closer to where they work in order to reduce commuting time and exposure to traffic
  •       Employers should encourage working from home using computers and Internet in a mega city such as Lagos.
  •       Employers should provide staff buses for staff journey management to major routes.
  •       Drivers should make use of media such as traffic radio station or modern technology to monitor traffic.
  •       More adequate and well-trained highway agents such as LASTMA (Lagos State Traffic Management Authority) should be provided on more road networks.
  •       Mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be conducted for all road construction to include traffic impact, mitigation or control.
  •       Implementation of regulation on age and quality of imported vehicles.
  •       Development of other means of transport such as waterways, rail /train, subway and use of bicycles (little or no emission)

So back to my story, we finally got home at 3am (mercy hour) and guess what; we could not sleep because we had to wake up in the next one hour to get set for work. All we could do was take a shower, have a light snack and watch TV to stay awake until 5.30am for the sequence to begin again.

Traffic in a Lagos has become a norm and is generally accepted as a way of life but we need to understand the negative impact it can have on our health and the environment and that is the aim of sharing this true-life experience. Now I understand why the life expectancy in the urban areas is lesser than in the rural. Should we relocate to the village where we can enjoy a healthier and natural lifestyle? Let us all weigh the pros and the cons of living in an industrial city then we can adequately make a choice that will determine the quality of life we live on the long run.

Further reading:

Written by O’ Reese of En-pact Solutions Limited, 2013.

Twitter: @OReese2