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Safety Tip: What do you do if your clothing catches fire? 

When faced with the terrifying situation of your hair or clothes being on fire, what will you do to prevent burns or even death? 

The safety phrase “Stop, Drop, and Roll” becomes crucial and lifesaving. This simple but effective method can save lives by quickly extinguishing flames and preventing severe burns. Let’s delve deeper into each step to understand why it works and how to perform it correctly. 

The ‘stop, drop, and roll’ safety phrase is a three-step process used to extinguish fire when a person’s clothing or hair is on fire. It was popularized in 1974 after the American National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Public Safety Council aired a public service announcement that launched a campaign to educate people on the technique.

The Stop, Drop and Roll Technique

1. Stop:

The first step is to ‘stop’. What this simply means is to pause or stop whatever you are doing. It might be difficult to remain calm in a terrifying situation, but remaining calm will help you make the right decision, which can prevent the situation from escalating. Although moving and running may seem like an appropriate human response, it is fatal. 

Why It’s Important:

Stopping immediately is critical because moving or running will fan the flames, increasing the fire’s intensity and spreading it more rapidly across your body. Movement also increases the amount of oxygen feeding the fire, making it harder to extinguish. 

How to Do It: 

1. Stay Calm and Halt All Movement: As soon as you realize your hair or clothes are on fire, stay in at a place. Panicking will only worsen the situation. 

2. Stay Grounded: Maintain your balance and avoid any erratic movements. 

2. Drop:

Drop’ is the second step; it involves lying on the ground. It is paramount that you get down to the ground carefully, covering your face with your hands to protect it from flames that could result in facial injuries. 

Why It’s Important:

Dropping to the ground is essential to getting yourself into a position where you can smother the flames. Being closer to the ground also makes it easier to roll effectively, which is the next step in extinguishing the fire. 

How to Do It: 

1. Lower Yourself Safely: Carefully get down on the ground to prevent injury from falling.  

    2. Protect Your Face: Use your hands to cover your face. This shields your face from the flames and protects your eyes, nose, and mouth from smoke and heat.


    3. Roll:

    Rolling is the third step in the stop, drop, and roll technique. Rolling involves moving your body to and fro (turning over and over in an axis) while on the ground. 

    Why It’s Important:

    Rolling back and forth smothers the fire by cutting off its oxygen supply. Without oxygen, the flames cannot continue to burn, effectively putting out the fire on your hair or clothes. 

    How to Do It: 

    1. Lay Flat: Get your body as flat as possible on the ground. 

    2. Roll Back and Forth: Roll from side to side repeatedly. Do not roll in one direction only, as this may not cover all areas of the flames. 

    3. Continue Until Flames Are Out: Keep rolling until you are sure that all the flames are extinguished. This may take a few passes back and forth to ensure every part of the fire is smothered. If individuals are around the victim, towels or rugs can be used to extinguish the fire swiftly, while rolling. 

    It is important to note the following; 

    1. Avoid Hazardous Areas: Try to roll in a clear area, away from sharp objects, debris, or additional flammable materials. 

    2. After Rolling: Once the flames are out, you may still have smoldering areas on your clothing. Patting these areas with a non-flammable material can help ensure they are completely extinguished. 

    It may be challenging to remember all these steps, but with consistent practice and training, the steps will be embedded, enabling you to respond effectively if the event occurs. 

    JC International offers health and safety training programmes such as; Basic/Advanced Firefighting and Prevention, Fire Warden /Marshall, First aid and CPR, Working Safely among others.  

    Enroll in any of our HSE programmes now! 

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