There are in the region of 10 deaths per year due to fires & flames in the UK and in the US this is approximately 350 per annum. In the US around 40,000 children are injured through fire related scenarios. The vast majority of people die from smoke or toxic gases and not the actual flames themselves. Smoking, cooking and alcohol are a big factor in the majority of residential fires.
Follow all of the fire safety tips below to minimise your family's risk.
Fire Safety Tips
- Practice a Safety Escape Plan with your family and do practice drills regularly. Plan your escape route. And make sure everyone knows where window keys are. If you hear an alarm get out. Stay/crawl low to avoid toxic fumes. Test doors with the back of your hand before opening to see if a fire is on the other side. Dial the emergency services as soon as possible once out.
- Avoid using candles in the home.
- Always have smoke detectors installed and regularly maintained and tested. Get ones that also test for Carbon Monoxide (CO is a lethal byproduct of incomplete combustion in poorly performing fires)
- Never allow children access to matches and lighters
- Portable Heaters : never leave these unattended. Try to user safe electric blowers rather than gas fired ones. Keep away from flammable items (bedding, paper etc.)
- Consider installing an automatic sprinkler system
- Ensure your electrical appliances are in good working order and all have the correct fuses fitted
- Don't overload an electrical socket (e.g. overloading of an extension socket)
- Avoid smoking cigarettes in the house - outside is best. If possible give up altogether. If you do smoke indoors (which we do not recommend) use deep ashtrays and never smoke in bed or in a flammable chair.
- Have RCDs/GFIs (devices to trip out faulty electrical circuits) fitted in your home
- Switch off all electrical appliances before going to bed that you can (except fridge).
- Never drink alcohol and cook at the same time. This is the cause of many household fires.
- Avoid cooking with pans of hot oil but if you must, do not fill more than a third full. Never leave unattended for a second. Ensure you dry out food before putting into hot oil as moisture will spit and may make the oil come over the top of the pan.
- Ensure fireplaces are properly controlled with fireguards and be careful about sparks jumping out. Avoid having carpet or other flammable materials nearby. Always extinguish and rake before retiring to bed.
- Ensure grill / hob / oven are all kept clean and in a good condition. Don't allow any build up of fat or grease which could be ignited.
- Close all doors before going to bed : this helps stop fires spreading
- Consider buying a general purpose fire extinguisher. Learn how to use it and what types of fire it is safe to put out and which ones it is not.
- Don't use an electric blanket with a hot water bottle.
- Be careful with both your children's clothing and your own as loose clothing poses an extra fire hazard, especially with open fires and heaters or if children were to find matches or lighters.
Does your family know what to do in the event of a fire? There are some great tips for fire safety in your home given in this video from the City of Rochester, NY Mayor's Office, USA. A family is put through its paces by doing some simulated tests to see what children might do in real fire situation and to see if they stick to their agreed escape plan.
This website helps you setup a fire drill for your family since 80% of fatalities in fires occur in a home environment. Some great information is given on this site including 'Why do I need a home fire drill?', 'Help me plan my home fire drill', 'Help me practice my home fire drill', 'What do I need to know about smoke alarms?' and 'Should you have a fire extinguisher'.
This is a video aimed at helping teachers deal with student trauma associated with being involved in a fire event at home that could have had many serious consequences including even losing a family member.
On this website, there is a section on teaching fire safety and also some games which include 'my friend the firefighter', 'stop, drop and roll', 'crawl low under smoke', 'safe for play, keep away' and the 'keep away card game'.