Each year in the UK, there are around 37,000 house fires, resulting in approximately 200 deaths. The majority of these fires occur at night, during the hours of 10pm to 6am, when most people are asleep. Startling statistics, so how do we protect ourselves from fire in our homes?
Prevention is better than cure, and with the majority of household fires being caused by faulty electrical appliances, the safety of these items should be top of your list. When you buy a new appliance make sure you register it with the manufacturer; this way you will receive notifications if it is recalled for safety reasons. Many electricians also offer a safety service, in which they will attend your home and test your appliances to ensure they are not overheating and are correctly and safely placed.
Many home fires are caused by candles, so make sure you never leave a burning candle unattended, or close to anything that may catch light, such as a curtain, or in reach of a billowing curtain when the windows are open. Cooking can cause fires too, so never leave anything in the kitchen unattended or cook while under the influence of alcohol.
A crucial aspect of preventing loss of life in a fire is the installation of working smoke alarms. It’s crucial that any alarms you have in your property are checked regularly for flat batteries, and that these are replaced immediately when they are low. Many smoke alarms have a ten-year life span and will need replacing after this time.
Smoke alarms should be fitted to the middle of the room, preferably a hallway or landing (kitchens and bathrooms are not the ideal places, due to the likelihood of steam or smoke setting them off by accident). If you are struggling to fit your smoke alarms, or are unsure if they are in the correct position or working properly, your local fire service can come out to conduct a fire safety check for you.
Finally, you will need to establish escape routes from each room in your property. Plan and practise this route to ensure that you and all other members of your household are familiar with it, and make sure that this route is easy to access and free from clutter at all times.
Do remember that most house fires are preventable. For further information, please contact your local fire department, or head to the fire safety website.