Fire prevention and limitation is half the battle, when it comes to the repair and recovery of fire damaged property. Being careful in the first instance and having the correct warning measures in place can make all the difference, in the advent of a fire breaking out at home. Taking precautions can mitigate against a fire’s ferociousness, its ability to spread, and the damage it can do.
There are a number of simple things that can be done around the home for added levels of fire prevention and safety. In general, we all know we should have the requisite smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms fitted around our homes. It’s important to test them regularly too (ideally once a week) and replace the battery or alarm if needed. Make sure whichever brand device you buy is from a reputable seller and has a guarantee of quality, such as a British Standards Kitemark, to ensure you have the best, most reliable equipment installed. You should have at least one positioned on each level of your house, but not too close to the kitchen (cooking fumes can often set them off accidentally) or the bathroom (equally, shower steam can cause them to activate).
Remain vigilant in the kitchen
The kitchen, with its oven and hob, can be a dangerous place for home safety and 50% of all domestic fires begin in that room. To avoid this, be vigilant when using appliances in the kitchen. Never leave pots and pans unattended on the hob, or food cooking under the grill, for long periods. It’s easy to get distracted when cooking – the phone rings, the children are causing a commotion – and before you know it, you’ve left the kitchen. Of course, never leave children in the kitchen unattended, as they may try and reach up and grab handles. If you have to leave the kitchen for any reason while cooking, take the pans off the heat, pull the grill tray out, or turn the heat and rings down or off. Keep toasters and other fired appliances away from tea towels or curtains, or under overhanging kitchen units, to ensure that don’t inadvertently catch light. And always turn pots and pan handles inwards to the worktop and hob, so they cannot be knocked or spilt.
When it comes to plugs in general, don’t overload your electrical power circuits. We have all seen four and five-pin plug connections, overloaded and overheating with plugs, and these should never be left unattended. It should really be one appliance and plug to each individual socket. Of course, in many residences these days there’s nowhere near enough plugs for all the appliances people need – this is especially true of charging points, which in modern houses are being built in separately, as USB charging points. Larger appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, should only ever be connected to a single plug, due to the amount of power they require to operate. Smaller appliances, such as laptops, gaming consoles, TV monitors, and particularly hair dryers or straighteners, should always be unplugged when not in use.
Before you go to bed at night, there are a few things you can do to protect your home and family while they’re asleep. Closing all the inside doors will prevent the fire spreading from room to room via landings and corridors. Equally, make sure all escape routes that you might need are kept clear – such as external doors with items stacked or leaning against them. And make sure keys are positioned where anyone can find them in a rush – somewhere obvious, like on a hook, not hidden in a drawer. If you’re a smoker, or have been relaxing with decorative candles lit, make sure they are extinguished before you go to bed. Check or move ashtrays to somewhere safe, such as the kitchen worktop. You should also unplug all electrical appliances that do not need to be on stand-by – this is a good environmental measure too and saves energy being wasted. Have a mental checklist of everything that has been in use that evening. Pay particular attention to the cooker – make sure it’s switched off and the oven’s not been left on. These tips are obviously equally relevant for fire safety when you go away on holiday.
Fire safety at home is something everyone should be aware of. The UK government’s fire safety and fire prevention guidance can be read and downloaded here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fire-safety-guidance
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