If you have a smoke detector alarm in your house but have taken the batteries out because the toaster kept setting it off then consider this: you’re twice as likely to die at home if you haven’t got a fire alarm.
A smoke detector costs less than £5 and you can get one in supermarkets or high street stores. There are no excuses for not having at least one! And if your smoke alarm is beeping, it generally means it wants new batteries.
Causes of Home Fires
But do you know all the ways a fire can start? You might remember the old adverts where a chip pan caught fire, but how many of us now deep fry in open pans? The risks these days are more integrated into the house. Electric circuits can be lethal in older houses because of wear and tear and in newer houses because of overloading and quick and cheap fitting.
Plugs can become overloaded by TVs, videos, DVD players, stereos, mobile phone chargers, hairdryers and home PCs to name a few, so it’s no wonder that sockets overheat and connections melt. And in some houses you can find nearly all those things in one teenager’s room!
You can remedy this by making sure you use a multi socket extension lead (surge protected are best) so that only one plug goes into the wall socket and one plug per socket on the lead. You can get up to eight sockets on an extension lead so there’s no excuse.
Develop a bedtime routine! No, I don’t mean milk and biscuits for everyone, but plug checks. If you leave things switched on at the wall, even on standby, they are still using an electric current and are therefore ‘live’, not to mention costing you money. A quarter of all people killed in home fires are asleep at the time, so by turning all plugs and lights off properly and you are seriously reducing the risks.
Never Play With Matches, Charlie
Remember the ads? The ones with the little boy and the scary cat? They may be over 30 years old, but the same principles apply. If you use matches or a lighter for your oven, fire, candles etc, keep them out of reach and preferably a locked cupboard.
There’s nothing so fascinating as a naked flame to children so make sure you stress the dangers and NEVER leave a naked flame unattended or without a fire guard. It should go without saying that you should never leave a child in a room with a naked flame in it, even a candle on a mantelpiece, for a second.
What’s the Most Dangerous Room for Fires?
Probably the most heavily used room: the kitchen. Nearly two thirds of all domestic fires happen because of cooking. That’s an awful lot of fires. Each year, 7,000 people are injured in kitchen fires (and that doesn’t include the people who are killed).
There are lots of things plugged in that you won’t want to unplug like the fridge and freezer, so make sure the sockets are given a check over.
These things may sound obvious to you but they won’t to a child, so make sure they don’t leave or use hot things like toasters near curtains, tea towels or wooden spoons aren’t left on hot hobs, and they never lean over hot pans to get something. And always make sure that things like ovens haven’t been left on.
The kitchen is definitely a place for a smoke detector and, if you can, a fire blanket on the wall.
- Have you got a smoke alarm?
- Have you got a fire extinguisher?
- Have you planned how you would evacuate your house in the event of a fire downstairs?
- Do your children and other family members know what to do in case of fire?