Over the last few weeks with the record breaking heatwave, we have all seen the results of the drought, witnessed wildfires and seen family homes or businesses destroyed on the news. As our weather patterns continue to change in the UK, we are likely to experience more extreme weather conditions and possibly more wildfires. As a result of this, our team have written this article to offer you the top advice available for fire safety and fire prevention in your home. A fire can happen anywhere and it is important to be fully prepared.
Whether you have recently moved into a new home, are selling your home, or considering safety in your current home, our top tips will ensure that your family home is as safe as it can be. In a house fire, it takes only 2-3 breaths of toxic fumes to render a person unconscious, and in that situation, it is likely that death will quickly follow. There were 49,000 house fires in UK homes last year with 90 deaths resulting from a lack of working smoke alarms.
Fit a smoke alarm
Fitting smoke alarms in your home is one of the simplest steps you can take to help prevent tragedies. If the previous owners didn’t take theirs, ensure it conforms to British Standard 5446, Part 1 (BS 5446-1), if not buy a new one. Ensure that you regularly test your smoke alarm to check it is working correctly: most have a test button.
Store matches and electrical items safely on moving day
Make sure matches and small electrical items are packed in clearly marked boxes and out of the reach of small children. Cover sockets and install cupboard locks at your new house as soon as possible if you have toddlers. Keep electrical leads away from high traffic areas to avoid trip hazards and remember to unplug all unnecessary appliances at night unless they are designed to remain on, such as freezers.
Check electrical appliances
Check your socket limits and ensure that avoid overloading them, which can lead to overheating and fire hazards. Inspect plugs to ensure the house move has not dislodged wiring. Faulty electrics, notably in appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets, cause around 7,000 house fires across the country every year. All cooker and boiler installations should be carried out by approved by a Gas Safe Registered engineer for your safety, visit http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk for more details.
Excess electricity flowing through items in your home can always be a potential fire hazard. Things like computers, TVs, game systems and a whole lot more use electricity even when they’re not on. That means they can always experience a surge, or they can just overheat and cause a fire.
The continuous electricity that’s flowing into them provides them with a source for a fire as well. By unplugging these items when you’re not using them and, therefore, not paying attention to them, you can cut down on your chances of a fire.
Our tumble dryers use a lot of heat and even your dishwasher uses a decent amount of heat. Space heaters and heated blankets do as well. These are all things that you don’t want to leave running when you’re not home because they could easily catch fire and cause a huge fire that you’re not home to detect.
If you’re in the house and awake you can stop the problem before it turns into a huge fire, but if you’re not home or even if you’re asleep that doesn’t happen.
Use a Surge Protector
You want to make sure that all your electronics are plugged into surge protectors. A surge in power is when you are most likely to experience an electrical fire and by plugging items into a surge protector you don’t have to worry about that excess electricity getting to the item and causing a fire. The surge protector keeps that extra out and can reduce your risk of having a fire in the first place or the strength of it if you do get one.
Choose an escape route
As a family, select a safe, suitable escape route and make sure everyone knows about it (and that it is accessible for everyone in your family). This is the best way to leave the house if there is a fire: ensure the exit is clear at all times. If doors are double locked at any time everyone should be aware of where the keys are kept.
Know the building procedures in flats
If you’re moving into a block of flats, make sure you are aware of the fire procedures and that any communal fire fighting equipment has been regularly inspected. Investigate escape routes and make sure communal alarms are operating and that evacuation procedures are clear and well-signposted. Check your lease for details, and ask your solicitor for clarification if at all unsure.
Check the chimney
Open fires have become more popular again in recent years. It can be exciting to use one for the first time, but they can be dangerous. Before lighting one, ensure that the chimney has been thoroughly swept. This includes chimneys being used as flues for gas fires, so if in doubt ask a professional to inspect your chimney and clean it as necessary regularly. Ask your solicitor for receipts from the seller to show a sweep has been carried out or arrange for one before the winter months come around.
Fit carbon monoxide detectors
Around 50 people a year die from carbon monoxide poisoning due to faulty heating appliances. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from burning all fossil fuels, not just gas fires and boilers, so you’ll need a detector even if you just have an open fire. Check when your boiler or heating appliances were last serviced and consult a professional if in any doubt. Carbon monoxide detectors should comply with British Standard BS 7860. Please remember they are only warning devices and are not a substitute for regular services.
Never leave fires or flames unattended
If you’re cooking, lighting candles, or using any other type of flame or excessive heat, you want to make sure that you’re always watching it. If you start cooking anything, you never want to walk away from the stove. If you start a fire in your fireplace you want to make sure you keep an eye on that as well.
By keeping an eye on these types of flames you can recognize quickly if there’s a problem or if they aren’t the way they are supposed to be. That means you’d be able to take care of the problem quickly and make sure you and your family are safe. This is also a good place to have a fire extinguisher and smoke alarms.
Clear the clutter
Clutter in your home is actually one way that fires can not only start spontaneously but also that they can spread excessively. By keeping less clutter in your home you’ll be able to cut down on your risk and also make it more likely that you can save your home in the event of a fire.
Too many things cluttering the area can give the fire plenty of space to spread to so make sure you keep your home a little more organized and getting rid of some of the excess clutter. It is also important to consider that clutter can cause an additional hazard when trying to escape from a fire.
Keep the debris down
Keeping debris away from the outside of your home is also important. Things like firewood, leaves, and other flammable materials can easily catch fire from stray ashes or sparks.
You don’t want those things anywhere near your home because they can easily spread the flames to the rest of your house and before you know it you have a huge fire on your hands. That’s definitely not something that you want to experience and it’s relatively simple to cut down the risk of it.
Keep flammable items away from heat
Flammable items like fabrics, paper, and even hair should always be kept away from excessive heat or flame. You want to keep your hair and your clothes out of the way when you’re starting a fire in your fireplace. You want to keep the stack of papers or magazines away from your wax melter. You also want to make sure that you’re watching closely for anything that could turn into a problem. You don’t want a fire to pop up anywhere and that means watching heat sources and anything close to them.
Remove lint and change filters
You want to make sure that you remove the lint from your dryer filter every time that you do the laundry. Even a small amount of lint could cause a huge fire. You should also clean the filters thoroughly regularly.
Keep oils and gas bottles away from flames and sparks
If you keep cooking oil in your kitchen you want to keep it away from the stove or anything that could potentially spark and cause a fire. The same goes for fuel that you might keep in a garage for your car, your lawnmower or gas bottles for barbeques.
You want to keep the gas away from a potential spark or flame. By carefully containing these things in approved containers and keeping them a safe distance away from anything that could react with them you’re going to be better prepared and cut your risk of problems at the same time.
Don’t smoke in your home
If you do smoke, it’s important to always do so in a well-ventilated area and to completely put out the cigarette before you throw it away. Cigarettes have a variety of additives and materials inside of them that can continue to burn even if you think that you’ve put them out.
That flame can then ignite inside your trashcan or outside your home and cause a fire. If you make sure to smoke outside, watching out for stray ashes and you make sure to put the cigarette out entirely before throwing it away you can cut down on this risk.
Invest in fire safety equipment
Fire extinguishers and fire blankets can – and should – be used in the home but it is extremely important you know exactly how to use each one and obtain advice potentially on a fire safety course or your local fire brigade. If they are used inappropriately, they can cause injury.
Put out fires
If you have a fireplace, it’s important to always watch what you’re doing as well. You want to make sure that you put out the fire before you’re going to leave the area and watch it for a moment to make sure that its been extinguished and the fire doesn’t pop back up.
Embers can continue to smoulder and burn, plus logs can continue to have flames inside of them that show up much later. You want to make sure you completely smother the fire and then watch for anything else that might show up later before you go to bed or leave the house.
Designate a fire room
With help from a fire office choose a fire room where you and your family can wait for the fire brigade if you are prevented from escaping from a house fire. The room should be easily visible from the outside and have a connected telephone.
Arrange a fire safety check
Many Fire and Rescue Services offer a fire safety risk assessment for free, an invaluable tool that could end up saving your life. To request a visit, go to http://www.fireservice.co.ukto locate your local fire service. A range of fire safety leaflets are also available for download.
No one ever imagines their home on fire or wants to think about the consequences of a fire in their home even a small fire can be considerably expensive to repair or rebuilt and some items can potentially never be replaced like family photos or gifts. However taking the time to get organised and ensure you are being as fire prevention conscious as possible will help you to prevent the risk of a possible fire in your home and also protect those closest to you.
- Government Site: Make Your Home Safe – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/make-your-home-safe-from-fire
- Clear the Clutter: https://www.whitehorsesurveyors.co.uk/home-improvements/decluttering-your-home-preparing-for-viewings-moving/
- Home Safety and Accident Prevention: Exploring Your Property: https://www.whitehorsesurveyors.co.uk/buying-a-house/home-safety/