The Fire & Rescue Services attended 45,000 indoor fires last year, and with 306 deaths and 8,900 non-fatal casualties in Britain* the onset of winter brings an added risk as people heat their homes to combat the cold weather.
To help in the prevention, detection, containment and escape from fire, Chubb has put together a 12-point guide to fire safety:
- Fit a smoke alarm. Test your smoke alarm weekly and change the batteries at least once a year.
- Never leave fires, candles or any form of exposed flame in the home unattended and ensure children are never left around fires, candles or matches unsupervised.
- In the kitchen, keep a fire blanket or suitable extinguisher handy.
- If using a tumble dryer, pay attention to any changes (e.g. hotter after a cycle, smell of burning, clothes taking longer to dry). Be sure to check the filter and pipe.
- Never smoke in bed and ensure that all cigarettes and candles are extinguished before retiring.
- If using gas, oil or coal-burning appliances, be aware of carbon monoxide dangers. Ensure the home is properly ventilated and equipment is regularly serviced and maintained.
- Turn off portable heaters, as well as gas and electric fires, before going to bed.
- If using an open fire, make sure the fire guard is secure and in place.
- Keep heaters away from furniture and curtains.
- If using an electric blanket for warmth, be aware of the potential dangers. Make sure the cord isn't frayed or has worn before plugging it in. (Electric blankets account for more than 5000 fires a year in the home.**)
- In case of a fire, have a plan. Make sure to have more than one escape route should the main exit become blocked.
- Use common sense.
"A house fire can start unexpectedly at any time," says Jane Garland, Marketing Communication Manager Manager, Chubb Fire & Security. "People need to be particularly careful at this time of year as they resort to additional heating. Almost 45,000 homes each year suffer some form of fire, and for many, the consequences can be devastating in both loss of life and property. What is really staggering is the number of homes who have still yet to fit any form of fire or smoke alarm, and those homes that have them but don't test them regularly.
"We are all guilty of using the extra heater and turning it on without rechecking it is fit for purpose," she adds. "It is all too easy for people to be complacent and not take adequate precautions to prevent a fire in the home, but especially through the winter and over the festive season, people need to be vigilant and careful."
*Figures from "Fire Statistics Great Britain, 2010 – 2011" by the Department for Communities and Local Government **Source UK Fire Service Resources website www.fireservices.co.uk.