Fires are one of the biggest risks to a home. They can destroy the infrastructure and cause widespread damage to your possessions and the house itself, not to mention the fact that they severely endanger the lives of those in and around the building. They spread rapidly, and if they’re not controlled early the situation can spiral wildly out of control. To keep your home and family as safe as possible, follow some basic steps to fireproof your home.
Firstly, if you have children in the house, give them a fire safety talk. This doesn’t need to be technical, but remind them not to go near the oven or fireplace and not to play with matches or lighters, which should ideally be kept out of their reach. If there is electrical equipment they can access, make sure they never use it unsupervised, as an electrical fault may occur which starts a fire. Make sure they know that if they find a fire in the house, they won’t be in trouble if they tell you.
While most homes have smoke alarms, lots of people don’t check these regularly. If the batteries have run out, it’s as good as not having an alarm at all, so check that it works frequently and always have spare batteries at hand if they run out unexpectedly. There should be a smoke alarm on every level of the house, and keep one as close to the kitchen as possible as this is one of the most common places for fires to start.
Furniture is often made of highly flammable materials, so consider getting yours fireproofed. While much furniture is now sold as fireproof as standard, imported furniture or anything antique may not be, so call in a professional to flameproof your furnishings. Ideally, choose someone local to do this. For example, if you live in Brighton, choose a Brighton flameproofing service to make sure your furniture is protected, so that if any of your items aren’t flame-resistant, they can find out whether they were sold locally so they can warn the person who sold it to you.
If you want the extra security, buy a small fire extinguisher or fire blanket to keep in the kitchen. A fire blanket can be used to extinguish a chip pan fire, and a fire extinguisher can put out various types of fire depending on the type [for example, foam or water]. Some extinguishers can actually make a fire worse if used on the wrong material, so make sure you know where you can or can’t use it before you try to tackle a fire.
When in doubt, the safest option is always to get out of the house and dial 999, who will be able to control and extinguish the fire for you.
… written by Elaine Pine works in the communications team for a local fire and rescue service, advising people on essential fire safety precautions.