The single most important action we can all take in fighting coronavirus is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives, but with the increased number of people at home during the day, there is the potential for more fires as people adapt their daily routines and others are in isolation.
Fire Services throughout the UK are warning that common causes of fires in the home such as cooking, smoking, electrical items and heating sources could become even more prevalent as people are spending more time indoors than usual. They are calling for people to think, take action and avoid becoming a further casualty for the NHS.
It’s absolutely vital that in these uncertain and unprecedented times people don’t forget about basic fire safety in the home. Clearly, with increased numbers of people indoors for much longer periods of time, there is a heightened risk of fire.
The isolation is about keeping you and your loved ones safe and we must all do what we can to not add pressure to our already challenged NHS. There are simple things we can all do to ensure we are keeping safe while we are all spending more time at home.
You should ensure that you have smoke alarms installed on all levels of your home, as working smoke alarms can give you the vital time needed to escape in a fire. These alarms should be tested regularly and never remove the batteries.
Plan an escape route in case there is a fire in the home. If there’s a fire, you need to act quickly. Make sure you are prepared and that everyone in your house knows exactly what to do.
Once you are out of the property to call 999 and don’t try to re-enter the property. If you have been self-isolating due to one or more residents having symptoms of COVID-19 please let the operator know when you make contact.
If you don’t have one already, follow this link for information on how to make an escape plan for your home.
Cooking fires are a major concern as people are expected to cook more during the day and with work continuing, schools closed and children at home, it can be very easy to get distracted. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high-risk area and you should never leave cooking unattended, and always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.
As people who don’t usually work from home set up temporary offices, there is also a risk of an increase in electrical fires. Hazards include overloading plug sockets, using counterfeit or incorrect chargers for tablets, laptops and mobile phones and “daisy-chaining” – plugging multiple extension leads together or plugging many multi-socket adaptors into a single socket. Make sure that there is only one plug per socket, and always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.
If you smoke, when finished put your cigarette out and make sure it's right out! Take care when under the influence of alcohol or if you are tired. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set light to furniture.
It's still chilly, especially in the evenings and most of us will be using central heating or portable heaters to keep us warm. Heaters can start fires when things are placed too close to them. never use heaters to dry clothes. and keep them well away from curtains, clothing and furniture.
And remember NEVER try to tackle any fire yourself. Get out, stay out and call 999.
These basic fire safety checks take just a few minutes to carry out and will help to keep you and your family safe.