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Fire safety in the home

On average 36 people die from fires each year in Ireland. The majority of these fatalities occur in the home and of these fatalities the highest percentage is the elderly. The following are the central issues in safeguarding you and your home from fire:

  • Take sensible safety measures around your home to avoid fire hazards
  • Install at least one smoke alarm on each floor level (for optimum use the smoke alarm on each floor should be located on the ceiling and should be checked regularly)
  • Decide on a fire escape plan, and practice it regularly

Safety in the kitchen

Of all the rooms in the home the greatest potential for the outbreak of fire is associated with the kitchen due to the nature of its use in cooking and the amount of electrical items that it may contain. The following precautions will reduce the risk of fire:

  • Install a fire extinguisher and fire blanket and familiarise yourself with their use.
  • Take care and never leave the cooker unattended when using deep fat fryers, hot cooking oil and chip pans. If the cooking oil catches fire, use a fire blanket to put it out. Do not move the pan or use water to extinguish flames.
  • Ensure your cooker is always clean from grease and fully switched off after use.
  • Develop safe and sensible cooking habits. Saucepan handles should be turned in, but not over other rings.
  • Treat kitchen appliances and electrical leads with care, and ensure that leads do not cross over cooker rings.

Domestic electrical appliances such as washing machines and tumble dryers also have the potential to catch fire. Fire may occur either because of the friction of the moving parts within, or as a result of an electrical short circuit. If a fire occurs, turn off the power at the isolation switch (if possible), and close the door to the room while evacuating the house.

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Safety in living rooms

Open fires
  • Ensure you have an effective spark guard at open fires and ensure it is correctly in place especially before you go to bed and when children are about.
  • Clean chimneys at least twice a year. On average 30% of all fires each year are chimney fires.
  • Remember not to leave newspapers, clothes or combustible materials too close to a fire or heater.

Smoking

  • If you allow smoking in the house, provide large, stable ashtrays. A burning cigarette end can smoulder for hours before igniting.
  • Ensure matches and lighters are out of children's reach.
  • Do not smoke if you are feeling sleepy or have taken alcohol.

Electrical leads

  • Check all electrical leads and plugs for deterioration, burning or fraying.
  • Ensure there are no overloaded sockets.
  • Switch off and unplug all appliances when not in use (this applies everywhere in the house).

Portable heaters

  • All gas and electric portable heaters require special attention and handling. Familiarise yourself with any special instructions for their use.
  • Keep all flammable materials at a safe distance from portable heaters

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Safety in bedrooms

  • Smoking in bed should be prohibited - it is one of the most dangerous fire hazards
  • Check electric blankets regularly for wear and damage, and ensure they are used according to the manufacturer's instructions
  • Switch off and unplug all appliances before going to bed
  • Ensure that all doors that safeguard your means of escape are closed before you retire for the night
  • Candles should be put in a proper holder that won't fall over. They need to be put on a heat-resistant surface. Candles should not be left unattended in a room

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Evacuation plan

  • Plan 2 escape routes to get out of the house
  • Always ensure that keys for doors and windows are readily available
  • Keep escape routes clear
  • Practice the plan
  • Close all doors behind you as you leave
  • Crawl low in smoke as the air is cleaner at ground level
  • Do not re-enter the house for any reason
  • Phone the fire brigade as soon as possible
  • If you are trapped in a room close the door and seal the bottom of the door with a towel or blanket
  • Go to the window, open it and attract attention
  • At first floor level, as a last resort you can hang from the window cill and drop to the ground
  • Always lower children first, never expect them to follow you

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Home checklist

  • Is there a smoke detector at each level of home?
  • Are matches, lighters etc. out of children's reach?
  • Is petrol stored in approved safety container and locked away?
  • Are electrical appliances kept in good repair and used properly?
  • Do you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and do you know how to use it?
  • Do you store combustible material near cookers or heaters?
  • Do you have a fireguard?
  • Is your chimney regularly cleaned?
  • Is the lint collector on your clothes dryer regularly cleaned?
  • Is the kitchen vent cleaned regularly?

By taking note of these simple measures and incorporating them into your daily routine you are safeguarding both you and your home from the dangers of fire.

Remember if you have children teach and encourage them to practice fire safety in the home.

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Carbon monoxide

Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odourless, colourless gas created when fuels (such as wood, coal, natural gas, propane, and oil) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide. Each year a number of people die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning in the home.

Remember, Remember, Remember

Clare county Fire and Rescue Service are asking the public to remember three things that can help protect them against this silent killer using the mnemonic "Remember, Remember, Remember":

  • Remember the causes – Carbon monoxide can be produced when any fuel is burned, including oil, gas, wood, coal and turf.
  • Remember to service – To prevent carbon monoxide, ensure your appliances are installed and serviced annually by a registered gas installer or a qualified service agent for your fuel type. Also make sure vents, flues and chimneys are kept clear.
  • Remember the alarm – Carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless so for added protection install an audible carbon monoxide alarm. Make sure the alarm complies with EN 50291, carries a CE mark, has an end of life indicator and carries an independent certification mark.

Further information can be found at Carbon Monoxide Awareness

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Stoves

Over recent years, the increased popularity of stoves has lead to an increase in stove fires.

Fires are mainly due to poor installation of stoves and flues.  Some of the fires have caused substantial damage to the building.

An important point is that stoves burn at very high temperatures and so the stove and the flues need to be installed correctly and clearly spaced from any timber or combustible materials. Insulated flues that pass through ceilings and walls need to be spaced or encased correctly.

There is a wide variety of stoves and building layouts so they must be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the current Building Regulations (Technical Guidance document J “Heat Producing Appliances”, 2014).

Reference can also be made to the British Flue and Chimney Manufacturer’s Association website:-   www.bfcma.co.uk

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Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 16/07/18