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Every year there are over 50,000 fires in homes which cause around 350 fatalities and injure over 10,000 people.
These statistics highlight the need for action to be taken to reduce the risk of fire in the home.
Domestic Fire Risk
The main causes of accidental fire remain the misuse of equipment or appliances mostly related to cooking. Fires caused from chip pans, smoking materials and electrical appliances or electrical distribution remain significant. Other causes include chimney fires, electric blanket fires and candles.
Homes nowadays contain large amounts of electrical items such as - TV's, videos, DVD players, sound systems, PC's and have a high ‘fire loading' with carpets, curtains, soft furnishings etc. allowing any fire, once started, to spread easily and rapidly.
The very young and the sick/elderly are particularly at risk especially at night when the occupants are invariably locked in.
This hazard increases at certain times of the year (e.g. at Christmas) when the number of occupants in the house can be swelled by relatives and friends.
Also at Christmas, in particular, intoxication plus highly combustible decorations/tree lights/candles can be a lethal combination.
Electrical overload is frequently a cause of fires at this time of year with temporary extension leads connecting the tree lights, illuminated signs etc often with wrongly rated fuses in the plugs.
Some simple fire precautions can help reduce such risks.
The installation of automatic fire detection devices will aid the early warning of fire while the provision of an ‘action plan' in the event of fire will help ensure the safe evacuation of residents.
To minimise the risk of fire some simple precautions can be undertaken in relation to:
- the kitchen and cooking hazards
- electrics and electrical appliances
- the presence of naked flames in open fires and candles
- portable heaters
- the type of soft furnishings present
- having a bedtime routine
Simple Fire Precautions - Action Plan
Draw up a simple Evacuation Plan and make sure that all the family, together
with any overnight guests, know what to do in a fire and how to escape safely
Make arrangements to help the disabled or young children to safety. Consider the need for a refuge for those with mobility problems - preferably a room with a window and a telephone
Make sure escape routes (main and ‘back up' routes) are kept clear and door/ window keys are kept in the same place - which everyone knows
Remember to call the local Fire and Rescue Service. If your telephone is out of action make sure everyone knows where the nearest phone is. Also make sure children know how to call the Fire and Rescue Service and what your address is. Consider leaving address details next to the phone
Provide extinguishers which are serviced annually by a competent person, located in easily accessible places on fire exit routes. Ensure everyone knows how to use an appropriate extinguisher - but only to tackle the fire if it is safe to do so. Place a reminder of the action plan in a prominent place e.g. a fridge/freezer.
Practice the plan
Candles and Scented Burners
Place on a heat resistant stable surface
Ensure there is at least 1 metre (3ft) between the flame and any surface above it
Never leave unattended when alight
Put them out before going to bed
Keep out of reach of children and pets
Keep well away from curtains
Follow any manufacturers instructions
Never leave a lit cigarette or pipe unattended
Never smoke in a chair if you think you may doze off
Do not smoke in bed
Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children
Fit one plug for one socket unless you use an adapter lead. Ensure any adapter has a fuse and the total output is no more than 13 amps
Ensure that electrical appliances, plugs and electrical leads are in good condition. Hot plugs/sockets, scorch marks on plugs/sockets or flickering lights are all signs of problems
Replace any worn or taped up cable/ leads and make sure the cord grip is clamped on the outer cable and not the inner insulated wires
Do not put cables under carpets or mats
Check that all electrical appliances have the correctly rated fuses:
Load (up to) Fuse Fuse colour
700 watts 3amps RED
1000 watts 5amps BLACK
3000 watts 13amps BROWN
Do not hang mirrors over fireplaces. Clothing catching light has caused some horrific injuries
Further advice can be obtained from:
- Your Insurance Company
- Your local Fire and Rescue Service
- Communities and Local Government
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.
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