How to avoid home fire risks
In this list we explain some of the more unexpected fire hazards that you should be aware of in order to keep yourself and your family safe at home. From decorative fairy lights to a build-up of crumbs in the toaster, here are twelve causes of house fires to keep on your radar.
It’s easy to overlook potential fire hazards that you can’t immediately see, so it’s vital that household wiring is checked for signs of wear and tear. A registered electrician should check the electrical installation of your house, however there are a number of day-to-day visual checks homeowners can carry out themselves, such as checking plugs and sockets for signs of damage. For more information, visit the Electrical Safety First website.
Many domestic fires in the UK arise from an electrical source. Adaptor plugs and other household electrical products should always be purchased from reputable sources, to avoid sub-standard and potentially dangerous electrical parts. Overloading electrical sockets is another fire risk and if extension bars are being used, the total amps should not exceed the limit specified (this is usually 10-13amps).
Most of us don’t think twice about placing glass ornaments or a vase on a windowsill, but it’s important to be aware that this can be a fire risk if your window is a sun trap. Glassware can cause a magnifying effect on a particularly sunny day and if the sun’s rays become focused on a patch of carpet or curtains, this can cause a fire.
If dust builds up near electrical sockets or around heaters it can ignite and cause a fire, so the area around them should be vacuumed regularly.
As pretty as they are to come home to, fairy lights should be turned off when leaving the house as they can be a fire risk.
Household fires often occur in the kitchen, usually started in a moment of distraction whilst cooking or by faulty electrical appliances. Cluttered kitchens are another hazard to be aware of, particularly when tea towels and other flammable items are left too close to the hob.
A build-up of crumbs in the toaster not only creates a lot of smoke (and sets the smoke alarm off every time you try to make breakfast), but they can easily spark and cause a kitchen fire.
Deep fat frying
Those with a penchant for fried foods could invest in an electric deep-fat fryer with a thermostat, as a pan full of spitting, hot oil is not only dangerous to be around, but if it overheats it can easily cause a fire.
Electric blankets should carry the British Standard Kitemark and the British Electrotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB) symbol on them and should never be folded to protect the wiring.
Hair styling tools
Forgetting to unplug your hair straighteners and other styling tools when you’re in a rush can result in a blaze quicker than you might think. They should always be unplugged after use and placed on a heatproof mat.
You may not think a cluttered cupboard is a big issue, but hoarding is a major fire risk – especially if your storage cupboard has a light source. Clothing and other combustible materials can ignite when in too close contact with an exposed, hot light bulb.
There’s nothing like a candle to help you de-stress, but they should always be placed in a candle holder and at least 10cm apart – and never under shelving or other surfaces.
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