Fire safety

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No-one can fail to have been moved by the shocking tower block inferno in Kensington last week which has led me to think about what advice is given to us in the event of a fire within our homes.
The fundamental principle still advocated by the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service remains — in the event of a fire "GET OUT, STAY OUT, CALL 999"

But what else can we do to keep ourselves as safe as possible?

It is interesting to note that over 50% of fire-related fatalities occurred in the over 65 years age group. Anything that could be done to reduce this figure is obviously very welcome — If you are aged 65 or over and are a Cheshire resident then the Fire Service offer free "Safe and Well Visits". The visits still incorporate the traditional fire safety information (and smoke alarm fitting), but will also offer additional advice on slips, trips and fall prevention; as well as offering additional support to those who wish to stop smoking, taking drugs or reduce their alcohol consumption.

If you aren't eligible for a visit — then you can do your own assessment via the fire brigade's website!

Some fundamental safety risks are very easily identified and minimised — for example:

  • A working smoke alarm provides early warning and extra time to escape if there is a fire — you should have a working smoke alarm on each level of your home — they cost around £5. Buying, fitting and regularly checking your smoke alarms could help you to save your home and the lives of your family. Test the alarms once a month to make sure that they are working, and vacuum them once a year to ensure that dust isn't blocking the sensor.
  • Close doors at night — if you have a fire, this helps to prevent smoke overcoming people who are asleep in bed.
  • If you have a gas, oil, wood or coal fire then the fire service also recommend having an audible carbon monoxide alarm.

More than half of accidental fires at home are started by cooking — either when cookers or grills are left unattended or when appliances (such as kettles and toasters) are plugged in directly under a cupboard. Always unplug your toaster and kettle when not in use!

electrical fire

Electricity is often overlooked as a fire hazard — but 28,000 fires in the home are reported each year as being caused by electrical faults, accidents or misuse of equipment — washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers should not be left running overnight or while you are out. Charging devices (e.g. for phones etc) should never be left charging overnight or when you are not at home, and never put laptops on soft furnishings, beds and duvets as this increases the risk of them overheating and catching fire.

Your chances of escaping a fire successfully will improve if you have an effective escape plan . Every household should have a plan in place just in case the worst was to happen — having a plan means that there is no delay if you have to escape fast — and ensure that all children know the plan and what to do in the unlikely event of a fire occurring.
Always keep escape routes clear, and make sure that there are no items that could trip you up, slow you down or stop others from escaping.

Fire safety is obviously very topical and important for us all — but it is still worth noting that the incidence of fire-related fatalities is very small — for every million people in the UK there were 5.5 fatalities in 2015-16....the message is very definitely fit a smoke alarm, and do what you can to minimise the risk of fire — stay safe.