Older people can be more vulnerable to the risk of fire. There a few reasons for this. Firstly, our ability to keep up with jobs around the house can diminish as we get older. This can mean the number of fire safety measures taken around the home is quite low.
Then in the event of a fire, older people may struggle to react fast enough due to medical conditions or a lack of mobility. Being on medication can also make a big difference to a person’s ability to detect fire.
This article today is all about fire safety in your home. By following the tips given you can reduce the risk of a fire in your home and react in a better way should a fire occur.
Statistics on the fire service website show that every year the fire and rescue service attends over 600,000 fires. The fires result in over 800 deaths and over 17,000 injuries. 50,000 of these fires are in the home and kill nearly 500 people.
These are frightening statistics, but there are plenty of things you can do to stay safe at home. Here are 5 ways in-which you can improve fire safety at your home.
Install a Smoke Detector
Did you know that you’re twice as likely to die in a house fire that has no smoke detector installed compared to one that does? Installing a smoke detector in your home is essential as it literally could save your life.
Our smoke detector is especially helpful, as it is linked to our personal alarm system. This means that should your smoke detector go off, an automatic alert call with go through to our Response Team. They will respond over the Lifeline Vi Alarm unit to speak with you before contacting the fire service.
Our smoke detectors have a 10-year battery life. So there is no need to worry about it running out of battery life. Once you have an alarm installed, on each level of your home, you need to test it every week to ensure that everything is working as it should. You should also keep your smoke detector free of any dust by cleaning it on a regular basis.
Cook with Care
According to the Fire Safety Advice Centre, nearly two thirds of all domestic fires happen because of cooking. With the kitchen being labelled as the most dangerous place in your home. There are plenty of ways in-which you can improve your kitchen’s fire safety rating. Most of which involve taking a step back and thinking about things more.
The first thing you need to do in order to avoid a fire is to keep your oven, hob and grill clean – fat, grease and bits of food can trigger a fire. The second is to avoid cooking if you’re tired, drunk or taking medication which could make you drowsy.
When you are cooking something nice in the kitchen you should try and avoid wearing loose clothing which could easily catch fire on the hob. You should also avoid hanging tea towels or cloths over the cooker and keep any electrical leads away from the area.
If you are using the hob, you need to remain in the kitchen to ensure that your pans don’t ‘boil over’ or fall. Always make sure the pan handles don’t stick out, as you could easily knock them off the hob. Should one of your pans catch fire, the London Fire Brigade suggest:
- Don’t tackle the fire yourself or try to move the pan.
- Never throw water onto it as this can create a fireball.
- If you can do so safely – turn off the heat.
- Leave the room and close the door. Shout to warn others to get out, stay out and call 999.
It’s not just the oven you need to think about, other appliances such as the microwave and toaster should also be looked after and used with care. You need to keep your microwave clean and avoid putting anything metallic inside.
Watch those electronics
Electronics can be lethal if they are not looked after. If you think something needs fixing or changing you should arrange for these to be sorted straight away. Electricity is a major cause of accidental fires in the UK, over 20,000 each year according to the Electrical Safety First website. 89% of electrical fires are caused by electrical products.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the risk of an electrical fire and improve fire safety in your home. Some tips include:
- Having your wiring checked every 10 years, or when you move into a new home.
- Turn off electrical equipment when you’re not using it – especially at night.
- Check flexible cables on your appliances. Look for signs of fraying, general wear and tear, or a loose plug on kettles on similar appliances. Do this before you plug anything in.
- Don’t overload a plug socket. You should check the current rating tension lead before plugging appliances into it. Most are rated at 13 A, but some are rated at only 10 A or less – the rating should be clearly marked on the back or underside of the extension lead.
- Don’t place electronic devices near to curtains or furniture.
- Don’t exceed the wattage of the light fitting or lampshade with the bulb you use.
- Check your sockets regularly. If you see burn marks or they feel hot, get a registered electrician to check them.
If you have any concerns about the wiring or electrical pug sockets in your home, please have an electrician take a look at them as soon as possible. You should not try and solve the problem by yourself unless you are qualified to do so.
Have an escape plan ready
When it comes to your home’s fire safety levels, it’s vital that you have some form of escape plan ready in the event of a fire. You’ll also need to ensure that everybody in your home knows exactly where to go should there be a fire.
Whilst thinking about a possible escape route, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service suggest you think about the following:
- The best escape route is often the normal way in and out of your home.
- Think of any difficulties you may have getting out, e.g at night you may need to have a torch to light your way.
- Choose a second escape route, in case the first one is blocked.
- Keep all exits clear of obstructions.
- If there are children, older or disabled people or pets, plan how you will get them out.
Windows and doors are your main ways out of the home. Therefore you’ll need to make sure you keep your keys in a safe place, and that everybody in your home knows exactly where to find them.
Once the escape plan has been decided, you should explain it to everybody in your home and possibly write it down – keeping on the fridge or in a safe place. It also wouldn’t hurt to practice your escape route every now and then.
There may be a chance of you not being able to escape the building immediately. With this in mind, you should also have a safe place ready to go to in the event of a fire. Follow these steps:
- Choose a room with a window and a telephone if possible.
- Place cushions, bedding or towels around the bottom of the door to try and block any smoke from entering the room.
- Open the window and call for help
Do a Bedtime Check
Before you go to bed a night you should get into the routine of checking possible fire hazards around your home. You are more at risk of a fire whilst you are asleep, as your reaction times will be slower.
Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service suggest the following checks:
- Close inside doors at night to stop a fire from spreading.
- Turn off and unplug electrical appliances unless they are designed to be left on – like your freezer.
- Check your cooker is turned off.
- Don’t leave the washing machine on.
- Turn heaters off and out up fireguards.
- Put candles and cigarettes out properly.
- Make sure exits are kept clear
- Keep doors and windows keys where everyone can find them.
Having a working smoke detector installed should hopefully wake you in the event of a fire, but by following these tips you may avoid needing to be awoken by an alarm in the first place.
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Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 7th September 2021 to reflect the latest information.