Every year in the UK house fires claim the lives of over 200 people with the majority of fatalities happening between 10pm and 6am – when most people are asleep. A fire in the house can occur at any time and without warning.
In the UK, roughly around 37,000 household fires take place a year and the biggest cause is the misuse of electrical equipment, mainly cooking appliances. More worryingly is that in the year 2018, 38% of battery operated smoke alarms did not sound during a fire. This was due to missing, flat or disconnected batteries.
It’s said that when a fire hits you only have minutes to escape, smoke alarms give you an advanced warning and extra time to react. Not only are smoke alarms related to lower casualties but they reduce damage to your home. And with a fully functioning alarm you are four more times likely to survive.
Fire is something that we have to be prepared for. Here’s the best ways to protect your family against household fires:
Fire Spreads Quickly – It’s estimated to take just one minute for a fire to go from flames to a thick smoke filled house.
It’s Extremely Hot- The heat can reach temperature of up to300 °C and cause whole rooms to ignite at once.
It’s Dark- Darkness can cause disorientation, especially if you are already panicking.
It’s Suffocating- Smoke and gas can cause drowsiness and make it hard to breath.
It’s important that all members of the family are educated in fire prevention, even children. You can help your kids learn in a fun way through the Disney sponsored app ‘Monster Guard’. It’s suitable for kids aged 7 to 11 and can be downloaded on iOS or Android devices.
As we mentioned earlier, cooking appliances are the number one cause of fires in the home. This is closely followed by cigarettes and sparks from fires or heaters left too close to fabrics. When cooking it’s important to never leave a stove unattended.
If you do have to leave the kitchen the best bet is to always turn the cooker off. It’s also best to keep away from cooking if you’ve been consuming alcohol and wear tight fitting clothes to prevent sleeves from catching fire. In addition, you should never let children cook unattended or without supervision.
Although most people choose to smoke outside now, you still need to be careful. Always make sure your cigarette is fully out and put it in an ashtray rather than throwing it away or into a bin.
In order to keep your family safe and prevent household fires, you should make sure all of your electronics are safe and fully functioning. This is because worn wires, cords or faulty appliances can all result in fire. Flickering lights can also be a danger and should be fixed by replacing the switch or fuse.
It’s also wise to never overload extension cords as this too can cause a fire hazard.
Fireplaces and wood-burners are a cosy edition to any home and are an efficient way to heat your house. However, there are a few things you need to do to stay safe when using these. Make sure that the pipes and chimney is regularly cleaned (at least once a year).
Never burn treated wood and use a fireguard to stop any wood or coal from reaching your floor or carpet. Always make sure your fire is completely out before leaving your house or going to bed. The same rules apply to heaters within the home –never leave them on overnight or when you’re going out.
Candles, matches and lighters- Always make sure to put candles out and do not leave unattended. You should also keep them away from pets and children as well as putting lighters and matches into a drawer.
Check your Mattress- It’s said that older mattresses do not have the same fire protection. If yours was made before 2007 the material might not be as safe, and it may be worthwhile replacing.
Flammables- Keep paint, aerosol cans and nail varnish away from the heat.
It is vitally important to have a fire escape plan for all families and households. And even more important is to regularly practice it – we recommend doing this twice a year. You should also make any regular house guests, such as childminder aware of your escape plan.
When planning your fire escape it’s important that everyone can exit the home within a few minutes. Here’s what to include: