Fire Safety & Awareness
• Causes behind common fires •
• Open Fires •
Always use a Fire Guard to ensure you protect yourself from the risks of having an open fire.
Fire Lighters, Logs or Coal should be stored away from the fireplace preferably in a container specifically designed for this purpose. Mirrors should not be hung over the fire, this will encourage people to get too close to the fire. Clothes should never be placed nor aired too close to the fire. It is advisable to never to sit closer than 1 metre to an open fire.
Never put a heater near clothes or furnishings., matches, aerosol sprays etc... All of these items are extemely flammable and, should not be kept near any source if heat. Do not use open fires for rubbish disposal.
• Chimneys •
Chimneys should be swept at least once a year, depending on their useage. Where logs are been used it is recommend the chimney should then be swept at least twice a year. Some signs of a chimney fire are red-hot particles falling from the chimney into the hearth, a roaring fire in the chimney or a chimney breast too hot to touch. Should a chimney fire not be dealt with promptly it may spread to the rest of the house.
If you suspect a chimney fire, call the Fire Brigade immediately. Some people believe the Fire Brigade will charge to attend chimney fires – this is strictly not true!
• Candles and Tea Lights •
If you are using candles ensure they are not left lit or unattended at anytime. Always ensure they are placed within an approved holder and on a flat surface, which is heat resistant. Never place candles on top of a TV or any other plastic combustible surfaces. Keep candles out of reach of children and pets and well away from curtains, furniture and draughts.
Never leave a burning candle in a child’s bedroom. Keep candles away from your hair or clothing. Always ensure after useage that they are properly extinguished, particularly at bedtime, preferably using a ‘snuffer’. The risk of fire or injury is higher if a lighted candle is moved while it is lit.
Always make sure you place candles away from curtains, furniture and drapes and always out of draughts.
• Smoking Materials •
Never leave a lit cigarette or pipe unattended. It may fall onti an armchair or carpet, which will very quickly catch alight and be on fire.
Use deep ashtrays at all times, and only empty them once the contents are cold.
Never smoke in a chair if you think you may fall asleep. Always keep lighters and matches well out of the reach of children. Never Smoke in bed.
• Electrical Safety •
Always ensure electrical sockets are never too overloaded. If several appliances are in use, ensure approved safety adaptors (preferably the in-line type) are been used. Electrical appliances should not be run off a light socket. Electrical cables should not run underneath carpets or near to that of a dangerous hazard e.g. a heat source. Look out for signs of dangerous wiring such as: hot plugs and sockets, fuses blowing for no obvious reasons, lights flickering or brown scorch marks on sockets or plugs. If you see any of these warning signs immediately consult your electricity provider or a qualified electrician.
Always use appliances and plugs that conform to the British Standard and display the 'kitemark' logo. Some appliances are designed to be left on all the time, check the manufacturer's instructions. All other appliances should be switched off or unplugged when not been used.
Remove plugs carefully; don't remove them by pulling by the flex. Never extend an extension lead. The routing of extension leads should ensure that they do not cause a trip hazard.
• Electric Blanket Safety •
Electric blankets cause over 2000 fires every year. Ensure that any new blanket has ‘overheat protection’ which causes the electricity to cut off if it becomes too hot. Ensure that it has the British Standard ‘kitemark’ logo complying with British Standard 3456b and ‘BEAB’ printed on it.
If a blanket has scorch marks or exposed elements, it should not be used. Hot water bottles should not be used in the same bed as an electric blanket, even if the blanket is switched off. Over blankets are designed to be left on, but under blankets must be switched off before getting into bed. Ensure you check which type you own and use it appropriately.
When stored, blankets should be folded as few times as possible and with nothing stored on top of them, these actions are to avoid the insulation inside the blanket breaking down.
• GENERAL FIRE SAFETY •
• Heaters •
Heaters should be kept away from all furniture and fittings. Portable heaters should never be placed close to beds or be used to dry clothes. Heaters should always stand in a safe place where they can't be tripped over. Ideally do not use paraffin heaters. If they are used, store paraffin outside in a metal container.
Portable gas heaters should have the cylinders changed outside in the open air or in a well-ventilated atmosphere. Both gas and paraffin heaters should only be used in well ventilated areas. If a mains gas leak is suspected, call the gas company immediately.
Electrical switches should NOT be operated, doors and windows should be opened to ventilate the area, and there must be no smoking. Gas hoses should be marked along their length with the date of manufacture.
Gas hoses more than five years old should be replaced.
• In the Bedroom •
If subdued lighting is required in the bedroom, a low wattage bulb should be used in a lamp, it should never be covered with a cloth. Candles should never be used as a night light. If for any reason a lamp is not available, make sure that a torch is near at hand.
• In the Kitchen •
Cooking accidents are the most common cause of accidental fires in the home. Most of these fires are started by people leaving heated pans of food unattended, leaving the cooker on after preparation of a meal or by leaving tea towels etc, too close to the cooker. Pans for food should not be left unattended to cook and cookers should be turned off before the kitchen is left.
Cooking under the influence of alcohol is extremely dangerous.
The flex from kettles or other kitchen appliances should be kept away from cookers. All electrical appliances such as kettles, toasters and irons should be switched off at the plug when not in use. Care should be taken with panhandles that they are not over gas rings or hot plates. Failure to do this may result in burns or scalds to others in the home.
Burns or scalds can also occur if the water temperature in the home is too high. Consider having a thermostatic safety valve fitted which will control the temperature.
• Treating Minor Burns •
Run cold water over the burn until the pain reduces. Cover the burn with clean non-fluffy material, like non-pvc clingfilm. If the burn is bigger than a postage stamp, seek immediate medical advice.
• Using Deep Fryers •
Deep frying is a major cause of fire in the home. Chip pans should never be filled more than one third full. If possible replace old chip pans with deep fat fryers or use oven chips.
Change the oil regularly, dirty oil catches fire more easily. The oil should not be allowed to become too hot. If the oil begins to smoke turn off the heat and leave the oil to cool. Smoke means the oil is just about to catch fire. Wet chips should not be put into hot oil, as this could make it boil over.
Food, especially food being deep fried, must never be left to cook unattended.
• What should I do if a pan catches fire? •
Don't take any risks. Turn off the heat if it's safe to do so. Never throw water over it. Don't tackle the fire yourself.
Get out, Stay out and, Dial 999!
• GENERAL SAFETY •
• CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING •
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a serious threat that people need to be aware of. Educating people on the dangers of CO can significantly reduce the health risk as well as save lives. Although everyone needs to be aware of the dangers, older people are more susceptible than others.
It is important that gas appliances are serviced by competent engineers. The signs look out for are yellow or brown staining around or on appliances; pilot lights frequently blow out; Increased condensation inside windows; yellow rather than blue flame.
Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning or other illnesses and can have a long-term health risk if left unattended.
Among the symptoms are a shortness of breath, mild nausea and headaches.
Carbon monoxide alarms are readily available from most DIY stores. They should be fitted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Burns and Scalds •
It is not uncommon for people suffer burns and scalds due to the temperature of their bathing water being set too high.
Consider the fitting of thermostats to control the temperature of bath water or reduce the temperature by turning down the thermostat that controls the temperature of your domestic hot water, especially should you regularly have younger visitors within your home.
• Event of Fire Escape Plan •
If you are an older person, you will possibly be asked from time to time to look after younger people, younger members of your own or another person’s family.
In this event, it is vitally important that any fire escape plan you have takes them into account. You should also consider having temporary safeguards in place such as stair gates, cupboard locks, etc where appropriate. It may be useful to discuss this with the parents of the younger people.
• Medication •
If young visitors are visiting your home please ensure that all drugs, medication etc... are kept out of reach, and where possible under lock and key.
• SMOKE ALARMS •
A fire strikes when you least expect it, often during the night. It also spreads very rapidly, but smoke is the real killer. If you are asleep when a fire starts and you don’t have a smoke alarm to wake you, your chances of surviving are severely reduced.
Smoke suffocates quickly and you may be dead before the flames reach you. Smoke alarms do not stop fires, but they do give early warning if a fire does occur. They can be purchased from any good electrical or DIY store.
In some circumstances your local Fire Brigade will provide and fit a smoke alarm for certain groups of our communities perceived to be at high risk.
We would always recommend that a ten year smoke alarm (with built-in Lithium battery) is purchased as this saves concern about annual battery replacement. When buying a smoke alarm ensure it conforms to British Standard 5446 Part 1 and has the British kitemark logo.
Smoke alarms are available for people with hearing impairment.The Fire Brigade recommends that at least one smoke alarm be fitted on each level in the home, and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure that the alarm is working and tested regularly. This should be done once a week.
Most alarms are tested by pushing in an obvious test button for a few seconds, until the alarm sounds. When the batteries are running out the alarm will bleep at intervals. Make sure the correct type of battery (normally alkaline) is used as a replacement. Except in the case of ten-year smoke alarms and Fire Angels, it should be replaced once a year.
Smoke alarms also need cleaning by gently vacuuming the inside to remove dust from the sensors. If it does not open, vacuum through the holes.
• NIGHT TIME ROUTINE •
Many fires in the home start at night. Make sure you have a bedtime fire safety routine to help you and your family keep safe.Switch off and unplug all electrical appliances not designed to stay on; make all smoking materials are put out.
Never smoke in bed and before emptying ashtrays make sure the contents are cold; Turn off all electrical items not designed to stay on continuously, including portable heaters.
Don’t leave TVs on standby and if you can, avoid using the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher overnight. Shut the doors.
• PLANNING YOUR ESCAPE ROUTE •
If your home catches fire, you may have to get out in dark and difficult conditions. It will be a lot easier if you have already planned and rehearsed your escape route and know where to go.Your planned escape route should stay free of any obstructions, loose floor coverings, or anything else that could be a hindrance.
Remember that your escape route may be in darkness. Everyone should be know the escape route and where door and window keys are located. Ideally these should be kept near the relevant locks.
If you have serious mobility difficulties you may consider q bedroom on the ground floor or near to a way out. Ensure at least one window above ground floor level opens fully to allow escape in an emergency.
• FIRE ACTION PLAN •
Would you know what to do if your smoke alarm went off in the night? Would you and your family be able to escape?
• ENSURE YOU ALL PLAN TOGETHER NOW •
Include everyone. Your best route is the way you always come into your home. Think about another way too. Keep your escape routes clear of obstacles. Know where door and window keys are kept. Staying put may be the safer option sometimes. Should your escape route be obstructed, stay put and protect yourselves until help arrives.
Find a room with a window that opens and if possible, Dial 999. If you live in a flat and discover the hallways filled with smoke or fire, go back inside and close the door. Do not use the lift.
• Practice your Fire Action Plan •
Knowing what to do could save your life. Take a few minutes to walk the route with your family. Check that everyone is able to operate keys and locks. Review your plan if you make any changes in your home.
• In the event of a fire •
Raise the alarm DON'T look for the fire. Raise the alarm and shout to wake everyone up. Follow your plan and get out. Check doors with the back of your hand before opening.
If it feels warm, DON'T OPEN IT, go another way. If there is a lot of smoke, crawl along the floor where the air will be cleaner. When outside, call the Fire Brigade from a mobile phone, phone box or a neighbour's house.
• If your escape way is obstructed •
Get everyone into one room. Close the door and put bedding or towels along the bottom to seal the gap. Open the window for fresh air. Phone the Fire Brigade or shout for help. If you are on the ground or first floor, you may be able to escape through the window. Throw some bedding, clothing or soft furnishings out.
Do not jump, lower yourself carefully and drop into the soft pile. Consider letting any children or older people go first. If you have to break a window, cover sharp edges with any available soft materials.
• Additional Fire Safety in Hi-Rise Flats •
The building in which you live has been designed with safety in mind. Outside the building, roads and other areas are designed so that emergency vehicles can get as near as possible. The walls, doors and floors are specially designed to resist fire and stop the spread of smoke.
To do this, all doors need to be kept closed when they are not in use. When the smoke alarm sounds. Don’t open doors looking for the source of the fire. Alert everyone else in the flat, closing the door behind you.
Don’t use a balcony to escape unless it is part of an official escape route, and don’t use the lift. When you are out of the building Dial 999. If a fire breaks out elsewhere in the building, it will normally be safe to stay in your own flat. Open a window if you need fresh air, and stay by the window where you may be seen, but if your own flat becomes affected by smoke, leave at once closing windows and doors behind you.