Fire safety advice in the home
There are potential fire risks throughout your home but by knowing where they are and what you can do to mitigate risks you can greatly reduce the likelihood of a fire.
Make sure you have smoke alarms fitted on every level of your home and test them regularly to check they work. Modern homes have lots of soft furnishings, fires, heaters, lights, television and stereo equipment, all of which are potential fire hazards. Our list of fire safety tips gives you an idea of the type of things to look out for and what you can do to improve fire safety in the home.
Hobs, ovens and microwaves all have the potential to cause fire. Keep them clean and in good working order because a build-up of fat and grease can ignite a fire. Keep tea towels, cloths and curtains away from the cooker, hob and electrics.
Kitchen equipment should be kept clean and free of any debris which could ignite and keep a fire blanket in the kitchen which can be used to extinguish a fire. If you use a chip plan, consider replacing it with an electric deep fat fryer which is fitted with a thermostatic cut out. If you do use a chip pan never leave it unattended. Never use water to extinguish a chip pan fire.
If you have a real fire in your home never leave it lit without a fireguard and make sure that the guard is secured in place, especially if you have children or pets. Keep all furniture at least 1 metre away from the fire to minimise the risk of ignition by stray embers. Never dry clothes in front of the fire, as they could easily ignite. Always make sure the chimney is swept on a regular basis (at least annually).
All upholstered furniture must meet home fire safety standards. This means the fillings and fabric will have undergone safety tests. New furniture should come with fire safety advice on the label, these labels can be found under cushions. Always check for the label before you buy.
Hot plugs or sockets, scorch marks, fuses that often blow and flickering lights are all signs of loose wiring or other electrical problems. To avoid electrical fires always check that you use the right fuse to prevent overheating and try and keep to one plug per socket.
Never use multi point adapters. If you do need more sockets, get them fitted by a qualified electrician or use proprietary gang sockets. Always make sure you have appropriate circuit breakers installed. Keep lamps well away from flammable materials and in a location where they cannot be knocked over. If you are buying a new electrical appliance check it has a British or European safety mark.
Candles and tea-lights have become increasingly popular and often play important roles in religious festivals. Anything that smoulders, such as incense, or has a naked flame is a fire risk. If you do choose to have candles or tea lights in your home, always put them on a fireproof surface and do not leave them burning unattended.
Cigarettes and matches
Always make sure cigarettes are extinguished in a suitable ashtray and that matches and lighters are kept in a secure place where children cannot access them.
Keep tumble dryers and filters clean of fabric deposits on a regular basis.
Garages and sheds
People increasingly use their garage and shed to store belongings, such as petrol in a jerry can for the lawn mower, recycling and tins of old paint. All of these are potential fire hazards.
You can reduce the risk of fire by keeping these areas clear of clutter, obstructions and anything that could cause or add fuel to a fire. Keep on top of your recycling and household rubbish and don\’t allow it to build up anywhere near heat sources or electrical sockets.
Be prepared for emergencies by having an escape plan.
Plan escape routes and make sure everyone knows how to escape
Make sure exits are kept clear
The best route is the normal way in and out of your home
Think of a second route in case the first one is blocked, especially stairs
Take a few minutes to practice your escape plan
However, it s important to remember that whatever precautions you take against house fires, there is always a risk that your home and possessions may be damaged or destroyed by an unexpected fire; that s why it is essential to be properly insured.
David Simms is the
manager at the Ecclesiastical Insurance group.