House fires can be started through accident and carelessness, by deliberate means, or through lack of preventative maintenance and checks. We know the damage and distress a fire can cause, and sometimes it is not the fault of the home owner that a fire broke out. The firefighters in Australia have enough to contend with during bush fire season in some of the territories, so dealing with home fires that could be prevented, is the duty of all Australian citizens. Let’s take a look at the top tips that will help households stop a fire taking hold of their home and their possessions by identifying, first of all, a few common causes of fire.
Fire needs a heat source, oxygen and fuel in order to ignite. This is known as the Fire Triangle. By removing any one of these elements, we are going to prevent or put out a fire. If we look around the home, there will be fresh air flowing through the house (the oxidising agent), there is certainly no end of fuel in the form of furniture, soft furnishings, wooden floors and painted surfaces and there will be a number of heat sources. We heat and light our homes with electricity, gas or oil. We may smoke cigarettes, or light candles to create ambience in a room, keep our beds warm with electric blankets, and use a tumble dryer to dry our clothes.
As the weather gets a little colder during the winter months, householders turn to their heating systems or electric blankets to keep them warm. One of the most common causes of an electrical fire is overloading the electricity circuit. Ensure that you do not plug in too many plugs or extension leads around the home and make sure that you regularly check the condition of the wiring.
Home appliance wiring should be covered by an insulating material, so if the wire is damaged or the metal wires can be seen poking through, switch off the appliance and get them looked at by a professional. Switch off heaters when not in the home, and install a heat source alarm. If using electric blankets, make sure they are rolled up after use and not folded as this can cause damage to the wiring. Turn off electrical appliances at the power point before retiring for the night.
Open fires and heaters
There is nothing better than an open fire but make sure you have a fire guard in place to prevent sparks jumping out and start to smoulder on a wooden floor or carpet. Get the chimney swept out on a regular basis as a chimney fire can get going very quickly if there is corroded soot in the flue. Keep all items at least one metre away from a heater or fire and don’t drape clothes on top of electric heaters.
All heaters must be installed by a professional and serviced on a regular basis and if you have small children, ensure they are supervised around heaters and open fires. There is a temptation for little fingers to push small items through heating grills or get too close to a fire as they are not able to understand risk. Install smoke alarms in the home so if a fire does catch and smoulder at night when you are asleep, this will raise the alarm. You can quickly get your family and yourself out of the home safely before getting the fire service to deal with any blaze.
Candles and cigarettes
While the number of smokers is on the decrease, if you do have a smoker in the home, take additional precautions. Safely dispose of cigarette ends in a metal container and pour water on them before putting in the garbage bins. It should go without saying that matches or lighters must be kept well away from children and that adults should never risk smoking in bed.
Candles around the home are used for a number of reasons; citronella candles are good for chasing away mosquitoes and insects, and we do leave them burning a long time. Aromatherapy candles are great for creating a calm and sweet-smelling atmosphere, or just having fairy lights, candles and some colourful bunting, brings a quirky and fun atmosphere to parties.
If left unattended, candles can be knocked over by the family dog or small child. Or, if too near to curtains they can flicker in a draught and the material can catch fire, and they should never be left to burn while the family are asleep.
Cooking and kitchen fires
The kitchen has a number of appliances and fuel sources including cooking oils and fats. If left unattended, oil in a frying pan will quickly reach a very high temperature and start to spit out fat droplets. The oil can combust and start a kitchen fire which fills the house with thick black smoke that damages the lungs. A fire can start without you being aware unless you take precautions. Never leave hot fat unattended, and remember to install heat alarms and smoke alarms as a preventative measure to keep you and your property safe from fire.
Following the above top tips and speaking to a professional home safety company who can advise correct fire detection equipment and alarms for your property, will save lives and give you the peace of mind to continue enjoying living in your family home.