Last year, 215 people lost their lives due to a fire at home. Many of these tragedies could have been prevented.
Everyday fire risks are present in our homes. Well-known risks include candles and cooking left unattended, covered electrical heaters, overloaded plugs, faulty electrical appliances, washing machines, tumble dryers and cigarettes.
How can injuries and deaths in fires be prevented?
The simplest and most effective way to prevent death and injury from house fires is to have a working smoke alarm on every level of the home.
Smoke alarms are especially important if a fire starts at night. Parents may assume they will smell the smoke and wake up. But in fact breathing in the thick, black smoke from a fire can kill people so quickly that they never wake up. Smoke alarms give people the vital minutes they need to get out before their home is filled with smoke.
You are 8 times more likely to die from a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm in your house.
Press to test: Monthly is best
With busy family lives, it can be hard to get into the habit of testing our smoke alarms (monthly is best) but it really only takes seconds to do and it could just save you and your loved ones’ lives.
Just press the test button and, if it beeps, it’s working. If an alarm doesn’t beep when you test it, either replace the battery or, if it’s a sealed smoke alarm, replace the alarm itself.
If you really struggle to remember to test put a date in your diary each month or invest in a WatchTower Giraffe from our online shop. The giraffe is designed to make it easy to reach alarms without climbing on chairs or stools. And he comes with his own full-colour illustrated story book for children. Once the children get involved, their pester power definitely encourages us grown-ups to test the smoke alarms each month!
Safety reminders to prevent fires
“We were going out for dinner with friends and the babysitter had already arrived. I’d only had about 15 minutes to get ready after getting the kids down so I was really rushing. I went back into the bedroom to grab something and realised I’d left the hair straighteners on. I’d chucked them on the bed thinking I’d turned them off. There was a brown line on the cover where they had just started to burn through. Can’t bear to think what might have happened.”
- Be sensible in the kitchen. Half of all fires are started by cooking. Definitely don’t cook if you have come home from a night out worse for wear! Starting to cook something to eat and nodding off is the cause of many fires in the home.
- Store heated hair appliances safely. A rising number of house fires are caused by hair straighteners and curling tongs.
- Avoid running your washing machine or dishwasher at night in case it has an electrical fault that starts a fire while your family is asleep.
- Store matches and lighters out of reach of small children. Get into the routine of putting them back in the same place every time.
- Make sure your cigarette is properly out and if you’re really tired, it’s best not to smoke in case you fall asleep with the cigarette in your hand.
- Don’t overload electrical sockets. Electrical Safety First has a fantastic online socket calculator so you can check that you’re not overloading your sockets. For example, if you use the combination of toaster and kettle on an extension lead running from one socket, it’s dangerously overloaded.
Escape plan and routines
- Plan and practice how you and your family are going to escape if a fire breaks out. Having a well-rehearsed escape plan can save vital minutes, and can literally be a matter of life or death for your family.
- Teach children what they should do if a fire breaks out. They will be scared and may be tempted to hide which means it takes longer to find and rescue them.
- Follow a night-time routine – switch off appliances, close doors and windows, and make sure cigarettes and candles are completely extinguished.
- Clear away any clutter in the hallway before you go to bed. If a fire breaks out you don’t want to be tripping over things in the rush to escape, especially if the house is filled with thick black smoke and it’s dark.
Can you help us spread the word about fire safety?