Viet Nam News
By Mai Hien
A picture capturing a snapshot of several girls running out of a burning Hà Nội karaoke bar last weekend has caught the attention of internet users around the web. The photo was widely shared, and the feedback has been mixed. Most comments focus on a young girl who used a bra to cover her nose while escaping from the fire.
Many people praised the girl, for her quick and intelligent response.
“Using a bra to cover your nose is a good lesson for anyone attempting to escape a fire. Most people would have suffered from suffocating before being burned to death," Facebook-user Lê Minh commented.
Trịnh Văn Nhân, from the Hà Nội Department of Fire Prevention and Control, said her action proved that she had good survival skills and knew how to handle a fire.
There are also some people who think otherwise.
"Employees of karaoke bars escape fires with such a different style than other people. In the case of an emergency, I would not do that," a reader nicknamed Mai Lan wrote.
The girl said she was sad to meet such disdain from netizens, despite the fact that she was fortunate to survive the fire.
“My friends and I were singing when someone shouted that the bar was on fire. We were so panicked, and we all ran down to the ground floor and hid in a toilet,” she told VTVC14 channel.
“I couldn’t think of other ways besides using my bra to cover my nose to escape the fire at that moment,” she said, adding that she told four of her friends to follow her.
Many netizens voiced their support, saying that survival was the most important factor at such a critical time.
Everyone should place themselves in the girl’s shoes, and then they would realize there was more at stake than offending others in a picture, they said.
The girl’s story reminded me of an incident that happened in Hà Đông District’s Mộ Lao Ward a month ago.
In this case, the victim was not as lucky as the girl mentioned above and her friends. She died of suffocating while her mother suffered serious burning after her five-story building caught fire.
If only the victim knew survival skills, her fate might be different, I thought.
Fire is common in Việt Nam.
Last year, there were nearly 2,800 cases of fire reported in the country, leaving 62 people dead and injuring 264 people, and causing VNĐ1,498 billion (US$67.1million) in property damage, according to statistics from the General Department of Fire Prevention and Control, Rescue and Salvage.
About 1,506 cases of fire occurred in the first six months of this year, leaving 31 people dead and injuring 181, in addition to property property damage amounting to more than VNĐ830 billion (US$37.2 million).
Meanwhile, there were some tragic accidents in the country caused by people’s ignorance—like gas poisoning deaths caused by running generators or coal stove.
Just last Saturday, three people died in Hà Nội’s Gia Lâm Districts after using a power generator while sleeping. If only they had more knowledge, the incidents could have been prevented.
Every year, 7,000 children die of accidents. About half of these children die of drowning, and parental negligence is the main reason.
Disasters like fires and drownings emphasise the need to educate with survival skills.
Providing children with survival skills—like how to recognise danger, how to response to strangers, and how to administer first aid—is popular in developed countries, but it is still new to Việt Nam.
Life skills are on the list of subjects taught at Vietnamese schools. However, they don’t bring about their desired results, because the classes take up a short time period and focus on theory instead of practice.
Students, particularly high schoolers, are not equipped with basic life skills necessary to adapt to rapidly shifting socio-economic conditions, Deputy Minister Trần Quang Quý said in Nhân Dân (People) newspaper.
According to Lê Thi Minh Nga, a psychologist from HCM City, most Vietnamese parents pay so much attention to brain development that they “ignore” life skills that directly affect the health and security of their children.
A number of parents, it seems, chose not to teach their children safety tips and instead attempt to shield their children themselves.
Nga also mentioned that life skills courses are often highly priced and only children from well-off families can afford them.
We are living in an uncertain world. Knowledge can help us adapt and overcome many of the emergency situations one might face.
Back to Bích’s story: we can recognise that knowing survival skills can not only save your life, but also the lives of others. --VNS