With over 27,000 home fires every year in the UK it is always advisable to take stock of the hazards in your home and the precautions you have in place to prevent a tragedy.
- Because hazards in the home are not always easy to spot
- Because home fires can be devastating
- Because safety reminders can save lives
The number of emergency call outs for Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs), in England, decreased by 3% in the year ending September 2020. However, of these calls, still over 150,000 were fires of all types, averaging at around 420 per day.
To read into this in more depth, there were around 27,000 residential fires recorded in the same period. Roughly three-quarters of said fires being domestic, such as houses, bungalows and converted flats, with the remaining in purpose-built flats.
Most of the primary dwelling (residential) fires, that lead to deaths, are caused by electrical equipment mishaps, with a high number being from cooking appliances. These mainly occur within the hours of 10pm-6am, a time period when most people are asleep and therefore warning signs go unnoticed.
The aim here is to show how these incidents are preventable when following correct safety measures and look at the most significant fire risks at home, answering commonly asked questions along the way.
Hazards in the Home
Hazards in the home vary in how obvious they are to spot. Some are clear to see whereas others could be less evident. Beneath is a list of common fire hazards that could occur in the home, and ways in which you could prevent the risk of them.
A common cause for residential fires, Electricals such as cooking appliances, loose wires and plug sockets are a considerable fire risk.
The main way in which you can prevent these types of fires is a simple switching off and unplugging any electrical equipment when not in use. It is also advisable if, when possible, make sure electrical items are not left on overnight. Of course, some appliances such as a Wi-Fi router cannot be switched off every night, however you could try and make sure phones are charged and the chargers are switched off at the mains before sleeping.
A general rule of thumb would be to make sure chargers, or any other plugs are not left in when not in use. Whilst the chances of an unused, but plugged in, charger causing a fire are low, the risk is still there.
Frying pans, deep frying stations and grills are all hazards when talking about fire safety. This is due to the high temperature and the oil that is used, which can easily result in a fire if not handled correctly. A means of prevention would be to ensure your equipment is cleaned thoroughly after use, to prevent old oil and build up that can because extremely flammable.
Candles and Flames
Do not let the pleasant smell and nature of a candle fool you, they pose an incredibly severe fire risk in the home. Whenever you light a candle, always make sure they burn on a fireproof surface and a respectable distance from any flammable materials such as curtains or fabrics, and always ensure they are away from drafts.
Are “White Goods” a fire risk and why?
“White Goods” is the name given to large household appliances such as fridges, freezers, washing machines and tumble dryers, that can all be responsible for fires if not looked after properly. The usual prevention tactics can also be applied to these devices, such as regular cleaning and maintenance, as well as not overloading sockets, however another way to prevent fire with white goods is to take real care when purchasing the item, especially if it is second hand. Years of mistreatment, and lack of maintenance, for a device such as these can easily lead to a fire-starting malfunction.
Electric scooter charging
A risk that has only become prominent in recent times, but one that is growing in severity, is the fire risk of charging electric scooters. In July 2021 there were examples of the risk and how dangerous it can be. Following appropriate precautions can reduce the fire risk, including allowing the battery to cool after your usage of this vehicle before charging, buying your scooter from a trusted seller and making sure your chargers are unplugged when out of use.
Leaving a TV on standby
Comparable to leaving a charger in the socket, the chances of a fire being caused by a TV being on standby is low but can still be seen as a risk. When a TV is on standby mode, it still has electricity flowing through the device from the wall socket. Therefore, this could well result in a fire risk due to short circuiting or overheating. It is often best to make sure it is turned off at the mains if possible and could even help operational costs.
Are slow cookers a fire hazard?
Another relatively low fire risk situation is the slow cooker. The chances that your slow cooker will cause a fire are slim but not zero. This device is designed to be on and working unattended for a long time but are not immune from short circuiting. Albeit very unlikely to happen, this risk could be prevented with a simple inspection of all wires and cords to make sure they are not faulty or frayed.
Smoke alarms are an excellent, cost-effective way to be alerted of the early signs of a home fire, for more guidance check out this article from the fire service:
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