A guide to fire safety in the home?

Fire can pose one of the biggest risks to your property and accounts for a significant number of home insurance claims every year. In this guide we talk about how you can better understand the lurking dangers that can cause a fire and how to minimise their risks and also what measures you can put in place to help prevent a house fire. 

Understand the dangers and minimize their risk

In their 2017 report ‘Detailed analysis of fires attended by fire and rescue services, England’, the Home Office reported that there were 558,963 incidents attended by FRSs in 2016/17. Of these incidents, around 161,770 (29%) were fires. It is important, as a preventative measure, that we are all aware of what items around the home might pose a higher fire hazard and also what we can do to minimise the risks. Below we have listed what we perceive to be our top ‘fire starters’ and provided some advice as to how you can minimise their risk of starting a fire:

Smoking

According to the 2017 home office report ‘Detailed analysis of fires attended by fire and rescue services, England’,  ‘Smokers’ materials (such as cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco) were the source of ignition in six per cent of accidental dwelling fires’. This results in someone dying from a fire started by a cigarette very six days! 

With the proof being so damning it really is a matter of life or death that we attempt to minimise the risks of a cigarette being the cause of a home fire, we can take the following steps to attempt to minimise this risk:

  • Smoke outside of the house
  • Do not leave lit cigarettes unattended
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach, and buy child resistant lighters 
  • Use proper ashtrays, which can’t tip over and stub cigarettes out properly

Candles

Candles are a lovely way to make your home feel cosy and smell nice that said, however, a candle is still a naked flame and could cause a fire. According to the UK government report ‘Fire Safety In The Home’, ‘two fires a day are started by candles’.  Take the following steps to minimise the risk of a candle causing a home fire:

  • Do not light candles near soft furnishings. A candle might look lovely in your window but what if your curtains set a light? Make sure your candles are lit far enough away from anything that could catch fire
  • Do not leave candles unattended- you might not think a candle being left on your kitchen table is a risk, but what if your cat knocks it over?
  • Keep them away from a draught
  • Always put candles on a heat resistant surface. Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which can get hot enough to melt plastic

Plug sockets & faulty electrics

Every year, over half of accidental domestic fires in the UK are caused by electricity. Faulty electrics (appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets) cause around 6,000 fires in the homes across the

country every year’. There are a few steps that you can take to minimise the risk of a fire starting from appliances, wiring and plug sockets:

    • Consider using a fuse box with a fitted Residual Current Device which switches the electricity off automatically is there is a fault
    • Have your electrics checked regularly by a qualified electrician
    • Check cables regularly for wear and tear as well as exposed wires
    • Always buy electrical appliances from a trusted retailer and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing
    • Never overload a plug socket
    • If using an extension lead, check the current rating before plugging appliances into it
    • Always register your electrical appliances so that the manufacturer can contact you if there’s a product recall
    • Unplug appliances or sockets when they are not in use
    • Only use one socket extension lead per socket and never plug an extension lead into another extension lead * If in doubt, use an overload calculator to check if you’re exceeding the maximum load. click below to get started:

The Socket Calculator has been brought to you by Electrical Safety First.

For more safety information visit http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Christmas Trees

I know, I know, Christmas is the season to be jolly, but it is also the time to be vigilant. The fireservice.co.uk states that ‘Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases’. As part of their ‘Fire Kills’ campaign, the fireservice.co.uk demonstrated how quickly a fire can engulf a room from a Christmas tree catching fire.

Take the following preventative measures to help prevent a fire in your home at Christmas:

  • Buy a tree with a high moisture content- this will be safer than an older, drier tree
  • Make sure your tree is upright in a water holding container. Additionally make sure the water is topped up daily to stop the tree drying out
  • Keep your tree away from appliances that could make the tree heat up
  • Keep naked flames and ashtrays away from your tree
  • Never leave lights on and unattended
  • Keep paper decorations away from fairy lights

There are many, many more fire hazards so please be advised that this is not an exhaustive list.

Fire Prevention in the home – what measures can I put in place?

As well as being aware of lurking dangers that pose a risk of fire, it is also advisable that you put specific measures in place to reduce the risk of a house fire, no matter what the cause was. 

Make sure you have fire alarms and regularly check that they work

The number one way to protect yourself and your family from a house fire is to make sure that you have working fire alarms fitted in your home. You should have at least one smoke alarms fitted on every level of your home. Additionally, when purchasing your fire alarms it is recommended that you look out for one of these certified symbols that will tell you that your alarm is approved and safe to use in the home:
Fire Approval Badges

As well as ensuring you have fire alarms fitted throughout your home, it is essential that regular checks are carried out. It is advised by the government that your fire alarms are tested monthly. 

Consider other fire equipment

  • Fire blankets can be used to put out a fire or wrap someone up in the case where their clothes have caught on fire. These are usually kept in the kitchen
  • Fire extinguishers can be purchased and kept within the home. They can help to control a fire. There are, however, different types of extinguishers for different types of fires so it is always worth doing your research first

Plan your escape

Planning an escape route and ensuring your whole family is aware of their easiest exit routes is always a good idea. Additionally, make sure that the escape routes are left clear at all times and if your escape route involves a locked window or door make sure the key is left near or in it.

Make a bedtime checklist

You are more at risk of fire whilst asleep. So it’s a good idea to check your home is safe before you go to bed. The government advises the following checklist is followed before you go to bed:

  • Close inside doors at night to stop a fire from spreading
  • Turn off and unplug electrical appliances unless they are designed to be left on – like your freezer
  • Check your cooker is turned off. Don’t leave the washing machine on. Turn heaters off and put up fireguards
  • Put candles and cigarettes out properly
  • Make sure exits are kept clear
  • Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them

*https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/564803/Fire-Safety-in-the-Home.pdf

We hope that this guide has been helpful. If you have any suggestions or would like us to cover any specific topic, please email us at feedback@dialdirect.co.uk with your request.  

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