What Have We Learned From Fire Safety Awareness Week 2014?
In the wake of National Fire Safety Week which took place last month North Wicklow Fianna Fáil Activist James Doyle claims that the best domestic fire safety advice comes from the community:
Having learned that it was National Fire Safety Awareness Week many of us took the initiative to check whether our smoke alarms were working or not. Some of us are wiser as a result. Having pulled out the chair from under the kitchen table, and after pressing the little red button, I myself was surprised to hear the sound of silence. Batteries needed changing. Smoke alarms have a life span of about 10 years. It’s advisable to test your alarm at least once a month, if not weekly.
With the knowledge that there may be others in the same situation I created an online poll to ask the most basic fire safety question that I could think of: ‘Do you have a working smoke alarm at home?’ Those who decided to pull out the chair and take part in the poll left their own valuable fire safety tips which I have compiled with other useful domestic fire safety advice:
- Most home fires start in the kitchen so a fire extinguisher or fire blanket is advisable;
- Close the kitchen door tight at night;
- Fires start easier with a greasy cooker so keep it clean;
- Never use the cooker for lighting cigarettes or drying clothes;
- No leads should cross the cooker rings;
- Deep fat fryers are particularly deadly – a fire blanket is necessary. If it ever catches fire, do not try to move it or put out the flames with water.
- Whether you have central heating, gas, or electric, make sure that your heating system is maintained, cleaned and checked annually.
- Clean the chimneys at least twice a year and don’t leave flammable items near the fireplace;
- Check leads on all electrical appliances and replace them if they are worn;
- Cords and plugs for appliances should not feel hot when in use;
- Switch everything off at night;
- Don’t overload sockets. The rule of thumb should be one plug per a socket;
- Avoid burning candles near an open window or breeze that could spread a fire. Never leave burning candles unattended
- If there are smokers large ashtrays should be provided;
- Keep the sparkguard securely in place especially before going to bed;
- Extra attention should be paid to the risk which portable heaters and radiators pose.
- Smoking should be forbidden in bed;
- Electric blankets should be checked for wear and manufacturer’s instructions should be strictly followed;
- A flashlight should be kept by your bed for emergencies;
- Never put anything over a lamp, like clothes or a blanket;
- Be sure that the light bulbs you use are the correct wattage for your lamp or lampshade; if the wattage is too high it can start a fire.
- Check that oil, paint, chemicals or anything flammable is stored appropriately;
- If you don’t have access to outside storage, store in well-sealed containers in a cool, dry place away from electricity and heat sources
MULTIPLE, SAFE AND EASY TO USE EXITS:
- Be sure that exits such as doors and windows aren’t blocked and can be opened easily. If you have safety features such as deadbolts and security bars, be sure that these are in good condition and can be opened easily
‘Although the National Fire Safety Awareness campaign only lasts a week each year, it is never too late to get pro active and make sure that loved ones are not exposed to the dangers of domestic fires. In Ireland around 50 people lose their lives annually as a result of preventable fires at home. Lack of attention to fireplaces and heaters, smoking and careless cooking are some of the main culprits. The disabled, elderly and children are more likely to be at risk. Every room has it’s own fire hazard and every fire safety plan should reflect this.
Taking a look around the house with these community tips in mind may help save a life. It must also be acknowledged that for many of us our attitude towards fire safety needs to adapt. With encouragement and dialogue we can change how we approach fire safety at home. A fully comprehensive fire safety plan can start with as little as setting a smoke alarm test reminder on your mobile phone or even pulling out the kitchen chair.
If you would like to take part in the Fire Safety Poll: ‘Do You Have a Working Smoke Alarm At Home?’ click here.