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How To Make Your Home Safe From Fire

How To Make Your Home Safe From Fire

It’s hard not to be horrified by the recent tragedy at London’s Grenfell Tower; when a fire swept across an entire high-rise tower block, leading to unthinkable loss of life. But as with so many disasters, the only thing we can do is to try to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

On average, 39 people die in fires in Ireland every year, and thousands more visit hospital with burns or scald injuries. So what can we do to ensure that our homes, and our families, are as safe as they can possibly be?

There are a few things we can all do, to minimise the risk of fire; and to plan ahead in case the worst happens:

Protect

  • Make sure you have fire alarms on every floor/in every area of your house. 82% of fires resulting in fatalities had no working Smoke Alarm.
  • Check the alarm works once a week, and change batteries once a year or immediately if it starts beeping intermittently.
  • Keep a suitable fire extinguisher (make sure it is the correct type) and fire blanket in your kitchen.
  • Repair or replace faulty appliances; and don’t attempt to re-use.
  • Don’t overload sockets, or leave appliances plugged in.

Prevent

  • Get chimneys cleaned & service your heating system at least once a year.
  • Use proper holders when burning candles, and never leave unattended.
  • Don’t smoke in bed, or when tired/ on medication.
  • Never leave children alone near an open fire or cooker.
  • Don’t leave matches or lighters where children could get them.
  • Don’t leave chip pans or frying pans unattended, and keep pan handles tucked in so they can’t be knocked over.

Check

Do a ‘Routine Safety Check’ before bed, and when leaving the house. It only takes a moment, and could mean the difference between life and death:

  • Unplug all unnecessary electrical appliances.
  • Turn off all unnecessary gas appliances.
  • Make sure all candles and naked flames are extinguished.
  • Place a spark-guard in front of any open fire.
  • Empty all ashtrays safely.
  • Close all doors, to reduce the spread of fire/smoke.
  • Check escape routes are clear of obstructions, and keys are accessible.

Plan

Have an ‘Evacuation Plan’ for you and your family in the event of a fire. If a fire occurs in your home, you may have to get out in dark and difficult conditions. Escaping will be a lot easier if you and your family already know what to do.

  • Involve everyone in the house. Children learn about fire procedures in school, so having a plan can be a part of everyday life, not a panic.
  • The normal routes out are preferred; but keep exits clear of obstructions, and make sure keys to doors & windows are accessible. Plan a ‘fastest route’, and alternatives (rear doors, or windows.)
  • Make everyone knows how to call the fire service on 999 or 112 (which isn’t dependent on signal): Tell the operator what service you require. Speak clearly, giving the address of the fire, and your phone number. Only hang up when the operator tells you to.
  • Don’t be a hero. If possible, close the door of the room where the fire is; but don’t try to tackle fires yourself. The most important thing is that you and your family get out safely.
  • Get everyone out as quickly as possible and don’t re-enter until the fire brigade allow you to do so.

In case you are cut off by fire, try to stay calm:

  • Try to find a safe place to wait for help. Touch doors to check if they are warm before opening - there might be fire on the other side.
  • Close the door and seal the bottom with towels or blankets to stop harmful smoke entering.
  • Try to get to the window so you can either escape or call out for help (stay by the window.)
  • If the room becomes smoky, crawl along the floor. 

This may seem intimidating; but it's just a call for awareness, which can quickly become second nature. These tips could make all the difference to your family’s safety. If in doubt, remember this simple code, and together we can STOP Fire.

STOP stands for:

  • Smoke alarms. Make sure you have at least one on every floor of your house.
  • Test your smoke alarms weekly, or ask someone to check it for you.
  • Obvious dangers. Look out for fire risks like overloaded sockets, candles and unattended appliances (including phone chargers.)
  • Plan Ahead. Keep access routes clear and have your keys at the ready. Know how you, and your family would get out in an emergency.
There’s more information on FireSafetyWeek.ie and the UK’s Fire Safety Guidance page. Wondering why we didn't include how to put out small fires? Because all official guidance says that beyond throwing on a fire blanket and closing the door behind you; leave it to the professionals

Read next: Preventing Accidents In The Home. Or if you need some light relief, check out the Hilarious Tweets From This Dad Of Four!

About the Author

Emily is a Writer, Editor, Blogger, and our new Digital Content Intern. She has three awesome nieces, and has accidentally worn the same outfit as them on at least one occasion. Emily likes making things, including hand-drawn cards, and a darn good chocolate cake; and she still sounds very English, despite living in Dublin for the last eight years. More insight into the workings of her brain can be found on dancingcakesandsilence.blogspot.com.

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