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Tips for safety in the home

The hi team have been in touch with the fire service. With all this cooking going on we want to join forces and provide some safety tips in the home.

A fire doesn’t have to kill you to take away your life but there are steps you can take to help to prevent a fire in your home. Fire can develop and spread quickly, producing heat and large amounts of thick smoke and fumes.  A working smoke alarm can give you important early warning but you will only have minutes to escape and it will be more difficult at night when people are asleep and it is dark. Escaping is easier if you have a planned escape route and everyone knows what to do. This section will give you advice on ways to prevent, protect and escape from fire.

Cigarette Fires

Smoking causes more than a third of all accidental fire deaths in people’s homes.  A burning cigarette is particularly dangerous because it can continue to burn for several hours and develop into a serious fire after you have gone to bed. Every year people are killed and injured by carelessness when smoking.  Falling asleep in a chair, sofa or in bed can be deadly if lit cigarettes fall and set fire to clothes, bedding, cushions or carpets.

 

TOP TIPS

 

  • Never leave cigarettes burning even in an ashtray.  They can fall and burn unseen for some time before starting a serious fire.

 

  • The contents of your ashtray should always be cold before you empty them.

 

  • Pour a little water into ashtrays before going to bed to ensure the contents are out.

 

  • Teach children that matches and lighters are tools not toys and should only be used by adults.

 

  • Always keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children, ideally with you or in a locked draw or cupboard. 

Matches, Lighters and Candles

Children as young as two are often fascinated by fire, the flicker of a flame, blowing out birthday candles, the bright colours of lighters even watching an adult light a cigarette.

 

Always keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children, ideally in your pocket or in a locked draw or cupboard. Teach children that matches lighters and candles are tools not toys and should only be used by adults.

 

See the Fire Starters Section for more information on children who ‘play’ with fire or visit the Firesetters Website.  

 

The flame from a candle can easily cause a fire and some candle holders can get very hot especially tea-lights, place them on a safe surface like a china plate.

 

TOP CANDLE TIPS

 

  • Always use a candle holder and make sure the candle fits firmly inside it. 

 

  • Keep candles away from draughts and away from curtains, furniture, and anything else that can catch fire.

.

  • Never put lighted candles of any sort on top of televisions or other plastic surface

 

  • Never leave candles unattended or go to sleep when they are alight.

 

  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.

 

  • Never move a candle once it is lit.

 

  • Do not use candles as nightlights for children.  Use a low watt mains or battery light.


Cooking Fires

Pans with hot fat in them start approx twenty per cent of fires in the home and cause 4,500 injuries every year. 

 

You can prevent these fires by using a deep fat fryer or switching to oven cooking.

 

If you can’t live without your chip or frying pan:

 

  • Never leave the pan unattended when the heat is switched on

 

  • Never fill the pan more than one-third full

 

  • Dry the food before placing it in the pan

 

  • Never add food to the pan if the oil starts to smoke.  Turn off the heat and allow it to cool down

 

  • Check that the handle of the pan is not sticking over the edge of the cooker where it could easily be knocked or reached by children

 

  • Do not cook when you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs

 

REMEMBER IF A PAN WITH FAT OR OIL IN CATCHES FIRE, NEVER THROW WATER ON IT. Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so, leave the house closing doors behind you and call 999.

Escape Plans  

Escape

Fire can develop and spread quickly through your home, producing heat and large amounts of dense smoke and fumes.  A working smoke alarm can give you an important early warning but you will only have minutes to escape. Escaping is a lot easier if you have planned an escape route and everyone knows where to go and what to do.

 

It is important to follow five basic principles;

 

  • SHOUT FIRE – make sure everyone knows exactly what is happening 
  • GET OUT – leave the building as quickly and calmly as possible through the nearest safe exit
  • SHUT THE DOOR – shut the doors which you pass through to help prevent the spread of the fire
  • CALL 999 – use a mobile or a neighbour’s phone and call the Fire and Rescue Service
  • STAY OUT – don’t go back for anything the fire fighters can do it quicker and more effectively.

 

TIPS FOR YOUR ESCAPE PLAN

  • The best escape route is your normal way in and out of your home 
  • Think of any difficulties you may have getting out, for example in the middle of the night 
  • Choose a second escape route in case the first one is blocked 
  • Keep both escape routes clear of things that might get in the way 
  • You may be able to escape out of the window if you're on the ground floor 
  • If you're on the first floor you should only do this as a last resort when you are in immediate danger. 
  • You should cushion your fall with bedding or cushions and lower yourself before dropping 

 

Escape

Fire can develop and spread quickly through your home, producing heat and large amounts of dense smoke and fumes.  A working smoke alarm can give you an important early warning but you will only have minutes to escape. Escaping is a lot easier if you have planned an escape route and everyone knows where to go and what to do.

 

It is important to follow five basic principles;

 

  • SHOUT FIRE – make sure everyone knows exactly what is happening 
  • GET OUT – leave the building as quickly and calmly as possible through the nearest safe exit
  • SHUT THE DOOR – shut the doors which you pass through to help prevent the spread of the fire
  • CALL 999 – use a mobile or a neighbour’s phone and call the Fire and Rescue Service
  • STAY OUT – don’t go back for anything the fire fighters can do it quicker and more effectively.

 

TIPS FOR YOUR ESCAPE PLAN

  • The best escape route is your normal way in and out of your home 
  • Think of any difficulties you may have getting out, for example in the middle of the night 
  • Choose a second escape route in case the first one is blocked 
  • Keep both escape routes clear of things that might get in the way 
  • You may be able to escape out of the window if you're on the ground floor 
  • If you're on the first floor you should only do this as a last resort when you are in immediate danger. 
  • You should cushion your fall with bedding or cushions and lower yourself before dropping 

Difficulties in Escaping from a High Rise

High rise flats are built to be fireproof. Walls ceilings and doors will hold back flames and smoke. If there is a fire elsewhere in the building you are usually safer staying in your flat unless heat or smoke is affecting you.

 

  • Make sure everyone in your home knows about the fire and alert neighbouring flats by banging on the doors on your way out. Set off the fire alarm if there is one. 
  • If there's a lot of smoke, crawl along the floor where the air will be cleaner 
  • Get everyone out and don't delay for valuables 
  • Don't investigate the fire 
  • Before you open doors check them with the back of your hand. If they're warm don't open them as the fire is on the other side 
  • Don't use the lift. Go down the stairs 

 

If Trapped by a Fire

Most fires occur between 10pm and 4am, if you are trapped by a fire in your home try to stay calm and raise the alarm. If possible get everyone together in one room with a phone or an opening window and call the Fire and Rescue Service or shout to alert people.

 

If you are higher than the ground floor, do not climb out of the window. Use bedding or clothing to block the bottom of the door and stop some of the smoke from getting into the room. The Fire and Rescue Service should be with you in 4-5 minutes and the door should hold back the fire for 15 minutes. Stay together in the room close to an open window if possible until you are rescued.

 

If it becomes unbearable in the room and you feel you have to get out, open the window as wide a possible, or if it does not open smash it using something sharp in the corner, then drop small soft things like clothing out to cushion your landing. Do not jump; 

 

  • Look – out of the window  
  • Lean - over to make sure nothing is in the way
  • Lower - yourself from the window sill to reduce the drop.  

 

Night Time Checks

Most fires happen between 10pm and 4am and most fire deaths happen at night, when people are asleep.

 

  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working, check them once a week.

 

  • Do not smoke in bed.

 

  • Do not use candles if you are likely to fall asleep.

 

  • Do not cook when you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs, or if you feel very tired

 

 

Before going to bed, check that:

 

  • You have closed all doors.

 

  • Your fire and any heaters are turned off.

 

  • All candles have been put out.

 

  • All cigarettes are out and ashtrays have a little water in them.

 

  • All electrical equipment which is not designed to be left on overnight is turned off and plugs removed or switches turned off.

 

  • Your cooker is turned off.

 

  • Your exit routes are clear.

Renting or Sharing

If you live in rented accommodation or share with other people, there's a higher chance you could have a fire. When renting it's not your home and someone else has to maintain it but it's a mistake to leave it all to the landlord. You're the person living there, and it's your life.

 

There has to be an adequate means of escape and, depending on the size of the property, there may have to be smoke alarms and fire extinguishing equipment.

 

Don't rely on your landlord, fit a smoke alarm to give you early warning of a fire. Ensure you know where the keys are kept, you may need to find the door or window keys in a hurry. Agree with everyone you live with where they will be kept, and keep them there.


If you have any concerns, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or the Environmental Health Officer at your local council for further advice The can give you more details about your landlord's obligations and your council's Environmental Health Officer can force your landlord to provide adequate fire precautions

 

Student accommodation

Parents may wish to check the safety of student accommodation. If you have concerns about the standard of the accommodation you should contact the university for advice.

For further information on your landlord's responsibilities, visit Communites and Local Government  or Fire Kills Websites 


Home Safety Checks

Your Fire and Rescue Service is committed to achieving it's Vision of 'Creating the Safest Community' by reducing the risk of fire in domestic premises through Home Safety Checks.

Firefighters can visit your home, where you may be at the greatest risk from fire, and offer simple advice on Fire Safety, tailored specifically to your needs. We can also, where necessary fit free smoke detectors, and in certain cases, provide a deep fat fryer to replace a conventional chip pan.

We are currently targeting our resources those households most at risk, but will attend to you as soon as possible if you request this service.

Assessment Process

Home Safety Checks can be carried out in a number of ways, including:-

  • Pre-arranged appointment
  • Spontaneous, without any prior appointment after a fire etc.
  • Referrals (through direct contact, telephone station enquiries or community partnerships)

 

On arrival at your household a minimum of two personnel will confirm their identify with the householder or responsible person. With the aid of a special form they will then be able to identify areas of the home where there may be fire safety concerns.


Once the risk assessment form has been completed we will be able to offer you detailed safety advice and if necessary, give you the opportunity to ask any questions about Fire and the Fire and Rescue Service and, if necessary, carry out smoke alarm installation.

The total time to complete a Home Safety Check varies upon the risks and the occupant of the home, however they normally last around 30 to 45 minutes. 

All visiting firefighters will always carry proof of identification.

 Contact your local fire and rescue service to find out more. 


 A big thanks to the team at the Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service for this content, make sure to check out your local service for more information. 

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Roweena Russell, E: roweena@hiwecanhelp.com , T: 079 57 57 6305
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