A guide to fire safety in your home

A recently-published government report on fire statistics stated that cooking appliances caused 50 per cent of accidental fires in dwellings in 2014-2015, but everything from electrics wires to using candles or smoking could also be a cause.

In fact, a frequent cause of fires in the home is due to overheating tumble dryers.

Be sure to de-fluff yours often and never leave it on while you’re out of the house.

Fire safety is a serious matter, and it means not only taking the right precautions to limit the risks in the first place, but also having awareness in the event that one does occur.

Checking your insurance policy, which will be tailored to the type of property you have, might be a good place to start. This may insist that certain precautions are taken.

Fit smoke alarms

The recommendation is to have at least one working smoke alarm per floor, and where possible use interlinked alarms, so that they all go off simultaneously.

The best places to fit them are on the ceiling of a room, or in the hallway or landing. Generally, it’s best to avoid kitchens and bathrooms, as steam can affect the sensors.

Test your smoke alarms weekly to ensure that they’re working, and never just take out the batteries if you set it off by accident. For extra protection, you could purchase heat detectors for in the kitchen, which sound an alarm when a certain temperature is reached, while strobe lights and vibrating-pad smoke alarms can be fitted for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Take care in the kitchen

Seeing as most house fires start in the kitchen, this is a room in which to be extra vigilant. Start by keeping the oven, hob and grill clean, so that there is no food or fat that might accidentally catch fire.

If you have a gas cooker, use a spark device to light it as they are much safer than a naked flame, such as a match or cigarette lighter.

During cooking, turn saucepan handles inwards to keep them out of the reach of children and be careful with loose clothing, tea towels or oven gloves in case they catch and ignite. Always double check at the end of cooking to make sure that the hob or oven is off.

Buy a fire blanket and keep it in the kitchen. Then if a pan does catch fire, and it’s safe to do so, you can place the blanket over the top. Never throw water over the flames as it could create a fireball, and the same applies with deep fat frying – if the oil starts to smoke, that means it’s too hot, so let it cool. If a fire does start, leave the kitchen, close the door and call the fire brigade.

Simple fire safety measures

There are many other ways to improve fire safety in the home. Simple precautions include buying a fireguard if you have an open fire in your lounge.

Keep all furniture at least a metre away from it too, and ensure that any furniture you have is made from materials that have undergone a fire safety test – lift up the cushions and you’ll hopefully see a label that has the details.

With electrics, never overload plug sockets, and don’t leave devices on if you’re not using them. Even a TV on standby presents a greater risk of an electrical fire than one that is completely turned off. Keep any portable heaters upright, and call out an electrician if you’re unsure about particular sockets, fuses blowing or flickering lights.

Keep matches away from children (obviously!) and always be careful when using candles – avoid lighting them next to curtains in particular. If you need more advice or ideas, you can request a free home fire safety visit, as stated on Fire Serivce.co.uk. Simply contact your local fire brigade and they will arrange a time to visit.

Fire safety training is also an option. Courses are affordable, covering fire extinguisher training and general awareness, and details can be found online.

Have a fire escape route planned

Even with all of the above key fire safety procedures in place, it can sometimes be hard to prevent the inevitable. If a fire does break out, make sure that everybody in the house knows what the fire plan is.

If you’re in a block of flats and there’s a fire that is not in your property, it’s usually better to stay put and call the emergency services. In a house, you’ll probably have an escape route worked out – usually the normal route in and out, but it’s good to plan a back-up in case that isn’t an option.

Always ensure that exits and doorways are kept clear, and make sure you practice your escape plan with your family. Finally, have a meeting point nearby where you can all gather once you’re all outside.

Check out more tips here and find out more about Home Insurance from MORE TH>N.

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