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Fire Safety in the Home

Date Published 01.07.2020
Topic Home Insurance

Fire Safety in the Home

On average, as many as 36 Irish lives are lost from fire incidents each year. A majority of these incidents occur in the home so it’s imperative that your home is fully adjusted for fire safety and that you and your family know what to do in the case of an emergency. Here is our guide to fire safety in the home. 

 

Fire safety in the home is broken down into three categories: Prevention, detection, and evacuation.

1. Prevention of Fires In The Home

Nearly every fire that occurs has an identifiable, preventable cause. According to the Department of Housing, “careless attention to or use of cigarettes lighters and matches, smoking, electricity, fireplaces, heaters, candles and cooking equipment are leading causes of fire-death and injury”. 

 

Prevention is the best way to avoid fires occurring in the first place. Good habits, safe practices, being prepared and educated can help your household greatly reduce the risk of fire. 

 

Methods of prevention: 

  • Create good habits such as completing a fire safety check before you go to bed. Make a checklist of items such as closing all doors, checking candles, fires, plug sockets, portable heaters, electric blankets, ovens etc that should all be switched off or put out.

  • Don’t leave electrical items such as your mobile phone or tablet plugged in on charge all night unsupervised as you sleep

  • Always keep aerosols like deodorant and hairspray away from heat sources including radiators, heaters, or direct sunlight. 
  • Have a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in your kitchen and ensure that everyone knows how to use them

  • Have smoke alarm detectors installed in your home and check their batteries regularly

  • Get your chimney cleaned regularly depending on the type of fuel you use. 

 

Fire Safety In The Home
Every apartment or flat should be fitted with at least one smoke alarm and an average-sized home should have at least two.

2. Detection of Fires

The majority of domestic fires happen at night while people are sleeping. Smoke from a fire will not wake you up - in fact it will cause you to go into an even deeper sleep. It takes just 3 minutes for irreversible damage to occur as a result of smoke inhalation. 

 

Smoke Alarms

Every apartment or flat should be fitted with at least one smoke alarm and an average-sized home should have at least two. The detectors should be mounted in each hallway, landing and room that isn’t your kitchen, bathroom or garage as these rooms’ conditions will cause false alarms. 

Smoke alarms are crucial to escaping a fire but without charged batteries or maintenance they are useless. 

 

How often should I check my smoke alarm 

  • You should test your smoke alarm on a weekly basis by pressing the test button until it activates. 
  • Depending on the type of batteries you’re using you may need to change the batteries every 6 months
  • Hoover the alarm every 6 months to remove dust
  • Replace any faulty smoke alarms immediately or replace alarms after ten years of use

Set a reminder on your phone calendar to keep track of these checks. 

 

Evacuation in case of a fire 

Having a set fire escape plan for when your smoke alarm sounds is so important. Your fire escape routes need to be identified and everyone in your household should be informed on what to do in case of a fire much like you would do in the workplace or school. 

 

Tips for creating an evacuation plan & fire drill

  • Plan at least two escape routes from your home. Identity alternatives that are available in case your planned routes are blocked.

  • If your house is two-storey consider how you would escape from upstairs. One solution is to buy an escape ladder that is stored on the second level.

  • Keep your escape routes clear of any obstructions and remind your household to close all doors to reduce the spread of fire and smoke. See tips for decluttering your home here.

  • Teach your family how to call for the fire brigade by dialling 999 or 112. Remember to call them after you have exited the home. There is no time to spare when an open fire is burning in the house.

  • In the event of a fire in your home test the door handles on your escape route with the back of your hand before entering. If the handle is warm it’s likely that the fire is in this room and is blocking your route. 
  • If a room is filled with smoke you should crawl along the ground to reduce smoke inhalation
  • Remember stop, drop and roll if your clothing catches fire
  • Choose a meeting point at a safe spot outside the house and check that everyone is accounted for.

  • Create a plan for when escaping is not possible. If you cannot leave a room, seal the door with sheets or clothing to stop smoke spreading, stay low to the ground, open the window and call for help.

  • You should practice all elements of this fire escape by completing regular fire drills with members of your household. 

 

Some rooms in the home are more susceptible to fire than others. These rooms need extra vigilance. Some of the golden rules include: 

 

3. Fire Safety In The Living Room 

  • Pay extra attention to electrical sockets, ensure the correct fuses are used and employ an electrical professional to install any extra sockets that you need. Don’t overload sockets with extension leads and unplug everything before going to bed. 
  • Use candles and portable heaters safely and responsibly. 

  • If using a fireplace, always use a spark-guard and only burn suitable materials. 

  • Have your chimney cleaned regularly depending on the type of fuel you use. 

  • Do not smoke inside your home.

 

4. Fire Safety In The Bedroom

  • Don’t smoke or use candles when there is a risk of you falling asleep before extinguishing them

  • Don’t cover lights with clothing for a dimming effect

  • Unplug all electrical appliances before going to bed.

 

5. Fire Safety In The Kitchen

  • Keep matches, pot handles, kettles, lighters etc out of reach of children

  • Have a fire blanket and extinguisher on hand

  • Avoid using deep fat fryers or chip pans as they are a serious fire hazard

  • Know how to treat burns effectively.

 

Tip: There are other ways to make your home safer. Check out our articles about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, if you need a Carbon Monoxide Detector and 10 Important Home Security Tips

 

Knowing about fire safety, having an evacuation plan and practicing good prevention habits in your home will help to keep your family safe from fire. Having an effective home insurance policy will protect your home. Learn more about AIG’s home insurance policies and get an online quote today. See what you can save with AIG’s great value home insurance. 

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