Burglary, flooding and property damage top the list of risks to our homes. But it can be easy to overlook fire among those concerns.
After all, what chance do you have of an unwanted house fire if you take care to extinguish naked flames?
However, there were 275 fire-related fatalities in the UK between 2013 and 2014, two thirds of which were a result of accidental fires.
Don’t allow your loved ones to risk being among these statistics. With a few precautions and some knowledge up your sleeve, you can give yourself the best chance avoiding a fire-related disaster.
Fit smoke alarms
The best defence against fire is a smoke alarm, and every home should have at least one. This will warn you in the event that a fire should occur, giving you and your family a head start to evacuate the property.
A smoke alarm should be tested every week, and the batteries replaced once a year. Ideally, your smoke alarm will be situated in your hallway, and for buildings with multiple floors, an additional smoke alarm should be placed on every landing.
Prevention is better than a fire extinuisher
The best way to fight fire is to reduce the chances of it happening. One of the most obvious ways to reduce your risk of fire is to make sure that candles are always extinguished, and to pay close attention while cooking – especially when it involves fat.
However, it’s important not to overlook your electronics and appliances as a potential source of danger. Electrical sockets should not be loaded beyond their capacity, as this can overheat and overload, leading to fire.
Electrical appliances can also cause fire if exposed to water, and broken and exposed plugs and wires require replacing to maintain safety.
Another important thing to remember is to refrain from smoking in bed, as your mattress is one of the most flammable objects within your home.
By practising caution and remaining vigilant for potentially dangerous situations, you can significantly reduce the likelihood that your home will be engulfed in flames.
Help in the event of an actual fire
For all the precautions you can possibly take, fires can happen through no fault of your own.
If this happens, you will most likely be alerted to the fire by your smoke alarm.
Make every effort to remain calm because panic can slow down your actions, and in a fire time is of the essence.
In the event of a chip pan fire, a fire blanket or fire extinguisher may be suitable to control and kill the blaze. However, if the fire cannot be safely tackled, you must evacuate your home.
Make sure that you and your family know your exit plan and keep it free from obstruction in case of an emergency.
Closing doors will contain the fire and make it harder to spread. As an extra precaution, you can have fire doors installed for peace of mind.
While moving through the house, you should keep as low to the floor as possible to minimise the smoke that you are inhaling. Once you have left the house and ensured that your family has also escaped, your first priority will be calling 999 for the fire brigade.
Treating injuries sustained in a fire
If you or any of your family sustain a serious injury in encountering a fire, such as significant burning or smoke inhalation, an ambulance must be called.
Although fire fighters can administer first aid, if the fire is extensive it is best not to divert their attention from tackling the blaze. In the unlikely event that your clothing is alight when you exit the building, remember to stop, drop and roll.
For injuries from smaller fires, it is still recommended to seek medical advice. However, minor burns can be treated at home by running the affected area under cold water for 10 minutes, and then applying burns cream and a bandage to protect the skin.
With proper attention to fire safety, it is unlikely that your home will be affected. But the knowledge of how to protect your family in the event that a fire should occur will ensure that everyone has the best chance of remaining safe and uninjured.