Every year there are over 50,000 fires in homes which cause around 350 fatalities and injure over 10,000 people.These statistics highlight the need for action to be taken to reduce the risk of fire in the home.
Domestic Fire Risk
The main causes of accidental fire remain the misuse of equipment or appliances mostly related to cooking. Fires caused by chip pans, smoking materials and electrical appliances or their distribution remain significant. Other causes include chimney fires, electric blanket fires and candles.
Homes nowadays contain large amounts of electrical items and have a “fire loading” with carpets, curtains and soft furnishings etc allowing any fire, once started, to spread easily and rapidly.
The very young and the sick or elderly are particularly at risk, especially at night when the occupants are invariably locked in.
This hazard increases at certain times of the year (e.g. at Christmas) when the number of occupants in the house can be swelled by relatives and friends.
Also at Christmas, in particular, intoxication plus highly combustible decorations/tree lights/candles can be a lethal combination. Electrical overload is frequently a cause of fires at this time of year with temporary extension leads connecting the tree lights, illuminated signs etc; often with wrongly rated fuses in the plugs.
Simple Fire Precautions – Action Plan
· Draw up a simple evacuation plan and make sure everyone, as well as overnight guests, know what to do in a fire and how to escape safely
· Make arrangements to help the disabled or young children to safety
· Consider the need for a refuge for those with mobility problems – preferably a room with a window and a telephone
· Make sure escape routes (main and “back up”) are kept clear and that door/window keys are kept in the same place, which everyone knows
· Remember to call the local Fire Brigade
· If the telephone is out of action make sure everyone knows where the nearest telephone is
· Make sure children know how to call the Fire Brigade and what the address is
· Leave address details beside the telephone
· Encourage flat owners to provide themselves with extinguishers which are serviced annually and are located in easily accessible places on fire exit routes from their flat
· Encourage those who own an extinguisher to ensure that everyone within their flat knows how to use it – but only to tackle the fire if it is safe to do so
· Place a reminder of the action plan in a prominent place
· Practice the plan
Smoke Detectors (within individual flats)
· Encourage flat owners to install smoke detector(s) which conform to BS5446 and carry the “kitemark”
· Test the bell weekly
· Keep a set of spare batteries or renew annually
· Fit one plug for one socket unless an adapter lead is used.
· Ensure any adapter has a fuse and the total output is no more than 13 amps
· Ensure that all electrical appliances, plugs and electrical leads are in good condition
· Hot plugs/sockets, scorch marks on plugs/sockets or flickering lights are all signs of problems
· Replace any worn or taped up cable/leads
· Make sure the cord grip is clamped on the outer cable and not the inner insulated wires
· Do not put cables under mats or carpets
· Have the fixed wiring installation checked by an approved electrical contractor every ten years
· Check that all electrical appliances have the correctly rated fuses, viz:
o 700 watts 3 amps RED
o 1000 watts 5 amps BLACK
o 3000 watts 13amps BROWN
Portable Heaters (within individual flats)
· Position safely, preferably by a wall and facing in to the room; secure to the wall if possible
· Keep away from furniture or soft furnishings
· Check that “soft” furnishings are fire resistant by looking for a fire test label