Heat in the city: Fire calls have doubled in Delhi. Here’s how you can keep safe - Hindustan Times
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Heat in the city: Fire calls have doubled in Delhi. Here’s how you can keep safe

ByKriti Kambiri
May 25, 2024 09:02 PM IST

As Delhi reports double the number of fires in May 2024 compared to May 2023, Delhi Fire Services (DFS) and electricians issue warnings and safety measures.

Delhi experienced a record power demand at 8,000MW on Wednesday — the highest in the city’s history. On the same day, the Capital reported several incidents of fire, reflecting the challenges residents face due to the intense heat. According to official statistics from the Delhi Fire Services (DFS), the number of fire calls in the first 20 days of May alone has more than doubled compared to last year, reaching 2,280.

As per data from Delhi Fire Services, fire calls have doubled up in May as compared to last year. (Photo: Gokul VS/HT (Photo for representational purposes only))
As per data from Delhi Fire Services, fire calls have doubled up in May as compared to last year. (Photo: Gokul VS/HT (Photo for representational purposes only))

Delhi Fire Services officials in action after a showroom in Karol Bagh market caught fire on May 20.(Photo: Sanjeev Verma/HT)
Delhi Fire Services officials in action after a showroom in Karol Bagh market caught fire on May 20.(Photo: Sanjeev Verma/HT)

“The rise in fire incidents this year can be attributed to two main factors: the high heat and dryness in the air, and the overload, negligence, or misuse of electricity,” explains Sanjay Tomar, deputy director of DFS. Feeling the heat?

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Calls received by Delhi Fire Services (DFS) in May

(From May 1 to 20, 2023)(From May 1 to 20, 2024)
Total Calls: 1748Total Calls: 3156
Total Fire Calls: 956Total Fire Calls: 2280

Here’s what you need to watch out for.

Fire, fire, everywhere?

The fire department receives several emergency calls every day. “Out of every 100 calls we get, about 55 to 60 are cases of fire and the rest are emergencies of other nature. Of those 55 to 60, about 50% of the fires are due to electricity,” informs Tomar.

  1. Overload
    In the hot months, high power usage leads to overload. “People are keeping their ACs on all day and plugging too many devices in the same sockets. Mostly, the wiring isn’t equipped to handle this and starts to melt because of the high amount of current. Situations like these end up causing a short-circuit,” says electrician Mohd Saleem
  2. Negligence
    “A lot of times people buy non-ISI-marked equipment. Sirf thode se paise bachane ke liye cheap options le aate hain aur phir baad mein aag ka khatra bana rehta hai,” says Yusuf Khan, an electrician, adding, “Sometimes when the wiring isn’t properly insulated and the voltage is high, tab bhi bijli se aag lag jati hai. This is what is referred to as a short circuit.”
  3. Misuse
    Misuse and overload of electrical appliances contribute to fire hazards. “People install ACs in smaller sockets or use incorrect Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBs), causing higher current flow than the device can handle. This leads to AC fires,” informs Tomar. Additionally, overuse of ACs and plugging multiple devices into one socket can cause wiring meltdown and short circuits.

(Left) A PG in Kamla Nagar caught fire in the early hours of Friday due to a short circuit in the building’s main electric board; and (right) a residence burnt down in Sheikh Sarai Phase 2 on Wednesday night.
(Left) A PG in Kamla Nagar caught fire in the early hours of Friday due to a short circuit in the building’s main electric board; and (right) a residence burnt down in Sheikh Sarai Phase 2 on Wednesday night.

AC troubleshooting

Electricians report a surge in calls for AC repair and servicing this summer. “I visit 40 to 50 homes a day. People complain that their ACs aren’t cooling properly, assuming it’s a gas leak or filter breakage. But most ACs are actually functioning fine! With temperatures above 45 degrees outside, expecting 18 degrees inside is unrealistic,” says Mohd Saleem.

Several Delhiites have reported that their ACs are not cooling down the room, in spite of getting it services recently.(Photo: Shutterstock (For representational purposes))
Several Delhiites have reported that their ACs are not cooling down the room, in spite of getting it services recently.(Photo: Shutterstock (For representational purposes))

Ensure your AC Is Functioning Properly; Electricians’ Tip-Off

  • Regular AC servicing prevents voltage fluctuations.
  • Avoid splashing water on the AC unit while cleaning.
  • Don’t run your AC all day. Use timers to regulate usage, especially at night.
  • Ensure MCBs are regularly checked for current leakage.
  • Clean AC filters frequently and maintain proper ventilation for outdoor units.
  • Keep sunlight out with curtains to maintain indoor coolness.
  • Rearrange furniture to allow proper airflow from AC vents.

Doctors speak

“Electrical burn injuries cause more damage than is visible to the eye,” informs Dr Raja Tiwari, additional professor, Plastic Surgery, AIIMS. “In the last month, our department has seen over 17 cases of electrical contact burns,” he adds. While first aid for most burns involves cooling the area under running water, Dr Tiwari cautions that it might cause more harm in high-tension electrical burns due to the exposure of deeper tissues.

For more, follow @htcity.delhijunction

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