Every commercial building you ever visit is required by law to have a set of fire safety procedures in place. From restaurants and racetracks through to shops and sports facilities, they each have their own unique challenges in both preventing and tackling a fire. But there is one place you frequent more often than anywhere which doesn’t have any of this protection – your home.
It is crucial that both you and your family do not take fire safety in the home for granted, as sadly house fires remain the most common cause of fire-related death in the United Kingdom. To reduce your family’s risk you need to give consideration to the two main aspects of fire safety – fire prevention and fire protection.
Electrical Appliances – in the UK 6000 fires are caused every year by overloaded sockets, damaged wiring, and faulty appliances. Make sure everyone in your home keeps on the lookout for damaged and overheating televisions, games consoles or other appliances and always have them professionally repaired rather than attempting it yourself. Ensure all of your sockets are damage free, and never double up with extension cords or go over the recommended total amp of attached appliances.
Kitchen Care – half of all fires in the home are caused by cooking accidents, and a typical kitchen is full of hazards which are capable of causing serious fire. Food left cooking by itself is a common cause, and the most likely culprits of this are children or those who are intoxicated. Always make sure your cooking appliances are fully turned off after you’ve finished, and reduce the presence of flammable materials in and around naked flames. Grease spills or oil containers should be stored correctly, kitchen paper, curtains and dishcloths should be kept well away from the hob, and take care to keep electrical leads and appliances away from water or heat.
Naked Flames – cigarettes and candles are another major cause of fire in the home, so make sure both are extinguished when finished and neither is left for a significant amount of time unsupervised. Try and think ahead if you are tired, intoxicated or on medication which may cause you to neglect a naked flame, and keep ashtrays and candles away from flammable items such as curtains or greetings cards.
Smoke Alarms – you are four times more likely to die in a fire if your smoke alarm doesn’t work. Fit one on every level of your home, test them regularly, and if possible obtain the latest ten-year sealed battery models which save lives and money. Make sure you also place your alarms somewhere out of the reach of steam and smoke from everyday activities such as cooking or showering. We all know how irritating it is when the alarm goes off unnecessarily, but disconnecting them even temporarily can be a lethal decision.
Fire Extinguishers – take a look at your home and identify any potential high-risk areas which may require a fire extinguisher. Ideally you should have one on each floor of your home, but at the very least there should be an all-purpose extinguisher I your kitchen to combat grease or electrical fires. If you have areas where large amounts of electrical or paper items are stored then you must also have the appropriate extinguisher for the job located nearby. Keep all extinguishers out of the reach of children, and be vigilant as to the expiration date of your fire-fighting equipment.
Education – knowing what to do in the result of a fire is far more effective than any piece of fire-fighting equipment. Practicing fire drills can save lives, and whilst it may seem over the top for a single home it can make all the difference in an emergency. Teach yourself and your family the basics of escaping a fire, including points of exit, how to raise the alarm, and the do’s and don’ts of each.