At All Trades we deal with many property owners who have been subject to detrimental loss due to fire, which could have been prevented. There are many precautions that can be taken around the home. So be fire smart and follow are guide below to help make sure you and your loved ones aren’t at risk.
1. Smoke Alarms
Many homes across the UK do not have fully functional smoke alarms which often could have prevented damage and sometimes lives. You should aim to have at least one smoke alarm on every floor of the home. The more that are installed the better, as detection of smoke will be quicker and others can be relied on should one smoke alarm fail. A higher number of smoke alarms is particularly recommended for larger properties.
There are three types of alarms –
These are the least expensive and most readily available. They are very sensitive to small particles of smoke created during flaming fires such as chip-pan fires. These alarms will detect flaming fires before the smoke gets too thick.
Optical alarms are generally more expensive than ionisation alarms but are more effective at detecting slow-burning fires such as those occurring from overheated or faulty wiring. Optical alarms are less likely to sound accidentally (e.g. from overcooked food) and often are the better choice for alarms in the kitchen and properties that are only one level high.
The third ‘combined’ option is an alarm effective at detecting flaming fires as well as the slower burning ones. It is better to install a mix of alarms on both levels of a property for greater protection.
Contact your local fire authority to see if you are eligible for a free home risk fire assessment and free smoke alarm. Always think of those close to you that are elderly, disabled or vulnerable that may need their smoke alarms testing or replacing. Always follow manufacturers instructions when fitting a smoke alarm or hire a professional.
2. Causes of fire
Electric Blankets - These account for thousands of fires a year. Ensure yours has no fraying fabric or loose wires and isn’t emitting a burning smell.
Chip Pans & Cooking - Don’t overfill cooking equipment, don’t leave food that has a short cooking time unattended, and don’t cook whilst under the influence. Give the ventilation in your kitchen a regular check up to ensure fans and airways are not blocked. This not only helps with fire safety but also prevents toxic gas building up.
Candles - Although decorative and fragrant, candles are essentially an open flame often burning near flammable materials.
Always place burning candles on a heat resistant surface or ideally a holder designed for candles, and ensure they are sturdy and unlikely to be easily knocked over.
Always keep away from materials such as curtains, cards, carpets, wires, furniture, clothes, cloths and even hair!
Always remember about the rising heat from candles such as underneath a shelf.
Never leave unattended for long.
Never leave in the reach of children and pets
Electrical Appliances - Homeowners shouldn’t underestimate the risk of fire from electrical appliances. The over heating of plugs and sockets as well as blown fuses may start a fire.
See electrical safety in the home >>
Smoking - Falling asleep with a lit cigarette, use of unsuitable ashtrays, and not putting out the cigarette properly all frequently cause fires throughout the UK.
3. Children in the Home – It’s important to teach children about fire safety and procedures in the home, as often they can be inquisitive to touch open flames, and in the event of a fire may try to hide and subsequently put themselves in more danger.
- Make it clear what items around the home can’t be touched and are dangerous such as fires, cookers, kettles, matches and wires.
- Repeat information every so often to remind children of fire safety – it can be made fun and more interactive by asking children to draw what items they think are a hazardous, or sticking on colourful post-its near danger areas.
- Create an escape plan should fire break out in the home. Have a family meeting point and two designated escape routes should one exit be blocked. Practise escape plans twice yearly.
- Teach children not to go back for belongings, and to alert adults if any signs of a fire should occur.
4. Safety outside the Home
Barbeques, bonfires, fireworks and other outdoor events come with great fire risks. Always follow instruction manuals and ensure pets and children are kept at a safe distance. Always use enough open space and recommended materials and always ensure such fires are controlled and extinguished fully and correctly. Outside fires come with the added risk of wind changes and limited vision in poorly lit areas.
5. Safety at Work
If you are an employer, you need to ensure you and your staff know what to do to prevent a fire in the workplace and escape procedures if a fire does break out. If you’re an employee and feel you have inadequate fire safety in operation at your place of work, your employer may be breaking the law. Talk to your employer and alert them to UK fire safety laws.
The size of a workplace, number of employees and customer access all affect safety regulations in the workplace, however all the following should be taken into account:
- Quantity and function ability of smoke detectors.
- Type and quantity of fire extinguishers.
- Clear and accessible fire exits.
- Staff training.
- Proper disposal of hazardous materials.
- Suitable ventilation.
- Safe working conditions.
Ensure a key list of things to do in a fire is put up in the home, perhaps on the fridge or a cupboard door where the whole family can see and are encouraged to read frequently. Then if a fire should occur in the home everyone will be prepared.
Go over the points below with the family, and ensure they are on your fire safety guide. Remember even seconds wasted can be valuable to your escape.
- Never go back for valuables.
- Shut doors behind you as you go to try and prevent fire from spreading.
- Try to walk fast rather than run.
- Cover your mouth a nose to limit smoke inhalation.
- Try to keep a hand against the wall if possible so as not to become disorientated.
- Keeping lower to the ground will help you see better and give you access to more oxygen.
- If the only exit to a room is blocked, place towels, bedding or linen (damp if possible) under the door to prevent smoke entering. Lean out of a window to try and attract attention.
- Should no help arrive and leaving via a window is the only option, try to use sheets, towels or clothes tied together to assist you down to the ground. Search for a drainpipe to shimmy down. If there is time, try to throw pillows, duvets, towels, clothes etc to break you fall.