x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

New year, new you

Learn something every weekday with our class schedule. Plus how to prepare yourself for a fire.

Learn something every weekday with our class schedule.

Unless you're Batman, you can never completely fireproof your flat, but these steps should put you at a Boy Scout level of preparedness, and that's pretty good.

Step 1: Memorise these three numbers: 997. That's the emergency line to the Civil Defence, and dialling it should be the first thing you do if there is a fire. You can call 999, but 997 is the express line. Now you're in the know. The Civil Defence has a lot of experience fighting fires. Step 2: Check the halls outside your flat or villa. What safety precautions do you see? Remember any fire alarms that you might have to pull in a panic. Humayun Tausif from Dafoos Fire Protection, which installs alarm systems and other fire safety gear in the UAE, says apartment buildings must have a main alarm, sprinkler and hose systems in the hallways and common areas. He recommends tenants ask the landlord about the fire alarm system. In July, one of Abu Dhabi's largest landlords was reportedly disabling smoke alarms in flats to avoid false alarms, so it's important to know what is going on in your building. Make sure the staircase to leave the building isn't blocked. If you have a concern or complaint, address it with the landlord and, failing that, the Civil Defence.

Step 3: Look inside the flat. While regulations requiring smoke detectors and alarms in individual flats are being introduced in Dubai, it's not universal yet in Abu Dhabi. If you don't have a smoke detector, Tausif recommends a battery-powered one, which is available through Dafoos (04 269 4099) or at most hypermarkets. The fires that kill people usually start while tenants sleep, making smoke detectors imperative. Depending on your building's main alarm system, Dafoos may be able to connect your alarm to the whole building. Check smoke detectors every month or so. Heat detectors are less effective because by the time a room is hot enough to trigger them, it could have already filled with suffocating smoke. Also buy dry powder fire extinguishers, which can extinguish most small fires.

Step 4: Make a fire preparedness kit. Yes, this sounds like something you would do to earn a merit badge, but get over it. In the kit should be: duct tape for sealing doors, a fire blanket, a flashlight and a fire emergency plan. This page of the magazine is a good start. Step 5: Don't be silly. Candles, cigarettes and gas cookers start a lot of fires, so pay attention with all of them.

Step 1: Don't panic. That's always step one. Step 2: Call 997. Step 3: Alert other people in the apartment that there is a fire and pull the fire alarm, if possible. Step 4: Determine whether you can leave the building. Most fire marshall advice pamphlets essentially boil down to this: proceed cautiously to your exit. If you encounter smoke or intense heat, turn back and close the doors behind you. Always close and seal doors to block fire. If you can find a safe escape, you can put down this piece of paper and if you can't, keep reading.

Step 5: Prepare to lockdown the flat. Pick a room that has a window but is also away from the fire. Close the door and seal the cracks with that handy roll of duct tape. Failing that, put wet towels at the base. Seal vents if possible too. Open the window for fresh air and to signal help with a white shirt or towel. Stay calm and wait, keeping low to the floor where the air is clearer. If you called 997, Civil Defence is on its way. John Mather

Bet that got your attention. We would never recommend doing something so distracting if you're the driver, but that doesn't mean you can't enrich yourself while on the road. Audiobooks can be downloaded from iTunes onto your iPod, and then replayed on a car stereo with an adapter. Another good site is www.audiobooks.com, which allows you to buy, rent, download and even trade old audiobooks for credits; with more than 60,000 titles, it claims to have the biggest selection in the world. Of course, you can always do things the old-fashioned way and buy them at stores like Magrudy's.

If you have a leaky tap, fix it. You won't believe how much water you'll save. Calculate it with the help of the US Geological Survey, which has a nifty drip accumulator: ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/sc4.html. By our own measurement, one tap that leaks 60 drips per minute wastes five gallons a day, the equivalent to 41 baths per year.

@email:www.islamic designhouse.com It doesn't take much effort to find graphic-print designer T-shirts (with increasingly recycled imagery); and it's equally as manageable to buy traditional Muslim clothes. But for those interested in apparel that borrows from both of these genres and still manages to escape cliché, look no further than the Islamic Design House. The website was created by a group of young, UK-born Muslims looking to make clothes for their pious but chic peers. The results are superb: jilbabs made of unusual, technical materials, with styles for work, athletics or a night out; T-shirts, hoodies and even art prints emblazoned with graphics that are equal parts street graffiti and Arabic calligraphy; eco-friendly tote bags; and vases etched with kufic script. The best part about the site's wares is that, while infused with Islamic signifiers, you don't have to be Muslim to enjoy them - you just have to love fabulous design.