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What to do in the Case of Fire


Don’t think that it affects other people –

it may very well affect you and your family!


Prepare yourself with the following measures:

  • The national emergency number: …112….
  • Note here the number of the municipal fire department:……………and enter it in your mobile phone
  • Note here the number of the voluntary fire department:……………and enter it in your mobile phone
  • Keep this leaflet on the inside of your main door!
  • Make copies for your neighbors and family!

House construction

  • Don’t build your house close to a decline, if possible, build on a horizontal surface;
  • Use fire-resistant materials and avoid wood for the roof and exteriors ;
  • Install big water tanks with a capacity of at least 10.000 l, and with faucets for your hoses, and keep them always full;
  • Have your house number and maybe even the street name on your property fence so the firemen can find your house.
  • If you can, install a water sprinkler system on the roof, to create a water mist with high humidity.

House protection

  • Get fire insurance;
  • Place you valuable and your documents in a bank safe – this also protects against burglars;
  • Set a fixed date, for example May 1st, to inspect and ready your house for the summer;
  • Don’t let flammable materials or construction material accumulate near the house;
  • If there is no clear space of 6m around your property, meaning on your neighbor’s land, your fire insurance may not pay in case your house burns down! Speak to your neighbors, they must clean their property, too.


If the City Hall doesn’t clean public land near your property, do it together with your neighbors! 

  • The fireplace, grill, and all exhaust pipes have to have “hats” to avoid sending out sparks;
  • Don’t stack your firewood against the house, place it further away;
  • Make sure your water tanks are full;
  • Buy big buckets and good, long hoses: they have to be long enough to cover the roof with water;
  • Liquid fuel and gas have to be stored in proper containers and far away from the house, they may explode;
  • Don`t allow people to park illegally in the street, their cars may prevent the fire brigade from reaching you, this may cost you your house;
  • Buy surgical masks or gas masks in the pharmacies or home depot shops for all family members and keep them near your exit door – smoke alone can kill people!;
  • Keep flashlights with fresh batteries in easily accessible places, for example in the electricity fuse box;
  • All family members need to know where and how to switch off gas and electricity.

House Fire Maintenance

  • Remove pine needles, leaves, and other residue from the gutters and roof;
  • Clean you fireplace and grill from flammable material and control the “exhaust hats”;
  • Clean all storage places, don’t allow old stuff, paper and rubbish to accumulate.

Garden Fire Maintenance

  • Remove weeds, rotten tree branches and dead trees from your property;
  • Remove resinous plants that burn easily (e.g. pine, eucalyptus, Araucanian) and replace with those that don’t burn well, especially on the windy side and above declines on your land;
  • Remove objects, e.g. flower pots, from the walkways;
  • Place plants away from the house so that a fire cannot jump easily across the plants;
  • Don’t use pine bark as fertilizer, it spreads pine disease and burns very well!

Think: even for religious festivals, such on August 15, it is too dangerous in the summer to use fireworks, barbecues or light candles – sparks may fly a long way

Develop an emergency plan for your family and neighbors

  • Give a copy of this leaflet to your neighbors so that they take the same measures

All your family members need to know:

  • Where are fire hydrants near our house?
  • Where are the hoses, and are the water tanks full?
  • Don’t forget to consider pets or livestock, someone has to let them loose
  • Where will you meet in case of an emergency? Perhaps in an uncle’s house?
  • Whom do you call if you loose touch with each other (uncle,. sister,…) ?
  • If the mobile system doesn’t work, you can call your family from other people’s landlines
  • Have a first aid kit in the house and know how to use it
  • Take a course in First Aid

Fire prevention in the home

  • Install smoke detectors in the main rooms, you can buy them in the home depot shops;
  • Buy fire extinguishers: every adult needs to know how to use them;
  • Everybody needs to know the emergency exits, and where the first aid kit is;
  • Always obey the instructions of the firemen or Civil Protection;
  • Rent a safe in the bank to store your valuables (goods, photos, insurance policies, diplomas, valuables) – also a useful precaution against burglars.

Fire prevention in Agriculture

  • Install a network of water pipes and faucets around the property;
  • Install fire hydrants on your water tank so the firemen can use your water;
  • Keep a water pump and emergency generator, in case you need to pump water during a power failure;
  • The hoses need to be long enough to cover the rooftops with water;
  • Always obey the instructions of the firemen or Civil Protection.

In case of a fire

Don’t panic

Call the fire department and tell them:

  • Where is the fire?
  • What is burning?
  • Are houses /persons/ livestock in danger?
  • Civilians should only fight a fire when the firemen say so in case the firemen cannot help;
  • If you don’t want to or cannot help, stay well way, don’t become a spectator who needs to be evacuated;
  • If you need to fight a fire, always do it in groups, other persons can help if you get hit by the fire;
  • Be aware that a fire is very hot and loud and can be large;
  • Try to fight the fire with water hoses from the front, only if it is small, with spades or a fire squatter; a fire extinguisher contains water or foam for only 30 seconds!;
  • Don`t apply fire on a fuse box (in the house or on the street) unless you are sure that the electricity has been shut off.

Evacuation plan

  • Don’t panic;
  • Switch on the radio, and if the radio or the firemen announce an evacuation, do so and don’t return for any reason until they have given their OK;
  • Don’t leave too late;
  • Always obey the instructions of the firemen or Civil Protection;
  • Every family member needs to know how to switch off gas and electricity;
  • If you have, switch on your automatic watering system;
  • Everybody needs to know: Where are the emergency exists, the masks, the flashlights, the meeting point, who is the emergency contact person (uncle, sister,…)?;
  • If you have valuables, photos and important documents in the home: know what to take, and where they are; keep them together in easy reach.

 When the fire is over

  • Only enter your area and house when you are told by the authorities that it is safe to do so.
  • Keep vigilant for a few days

Ursula Hahn

info at



Madeira Weekly