This Christmas, amongst the distracting merriment, crackling fires and glittering trees, it’s important to keep you and your family safe. Fire statistics reveal the harrowing fact that in December, 20 people a day are either killed or injured by accidental fires in the home in England. These risks call for hyper-vigilance around fire safety during the festive period.
Taking some simple precautions can help protect a household all year round. After all, fire-safety isn’t just for Christmas. Here’s how you might detect, handle and prevent a fire:
- Check your fire alarms are working
Having a broken fire alarm is as much use as having no fire alarm at all. The Home Office has revealed that fires where a smoke alarm was not present accounted for 30% of all dwelling fires and 35% of all dwelling fire fatalities. We were all encouraged to change our alarm batteries in tandem with putting our clocks back, when the hour changed in November —a clever campaign that reminded everyone of the importance of regularly updating smoke detectors. But if you failed to jump on that bandwagon, now is the time to make sure all is in working order.
It’s important that not just one, but all of your alarms are performing. In a state of emergency, time is of the essence, so you should therefore have smoke detectors on every floor in a house, and in a number of rooms of a flat. That way, you’ll know about a flame before it’s able to spread.
- Make sure you have a good fire alarm system
If you find out that your smoke detectors are insufficient (maybe they’re faulty, old or generally unresponsive) then it’s high time to invest in a new system. It can be tempting, in the interests of frugality, to install an alarm yourself, but, when it comes to something as important as fire safety, professional assistance is often in order.
In a guide on the dangers of DIY wireless alarms, security experts Banham explain that one of the advantages of professionally installed intruder alarms is that they can include fire monitoring. Thus, a professional security company can offer heightened security and safety. This way, you run fewer risks, and don’t learn too late that an alarm has failed to do its job.
Putting matters into the hands of professionals can also be a weight off your mind, eliminating the paranoia that might accompany any solo attempt to protect your home from risk.
- Know your fire extinguishers
A working fire alarm system should always be accompanied by a working fire extinguisher. Attempting to deal with the flame yourself should not be a substitute for calling the the fire brigade, but owning a personal extinguisher remains incredibly important.
If you’re living in a house with others, make sure everyone knows how to use the device, including children who are old enough to understand. The process is intended to be simple; it’s essentially a matter of pulling the pin, aiming the hose and squeezing the lever, but knowing the procedure in advance, as well as the necessary distances, directions and movements that might best extinguish the flame, will help everyone respond calmly in the event of a real fire.
- Be wary of festive fire-hazards
Once you’ve got a system in place that’ll help you detect and deal with a flame, it’s time to think about how to prevent fires from occurring in the first place. Part of the magic of Christmas comes from the festival’s unique relationship with light. Different countries have different Christmas traditions; for instance, in Germany, real candles are used to decorate the tree.
As quaint as these customs are, they only add to the plethora of fire hazards thrown up at this time of year. If it’s not naked flames, it’s fairy lights being left on overnight, or whilst people are out, that are putting homes at risk.
Furthermore, cooking appliances cause half of accidental dwelling fires. Whilst a properly roasted turkey is a christmas staple, leaving the oven unattended can potentially cause more harm than a ruined dinner.
There’s no need to be perturbed by these cautionary measures; none of them need to stop you from having a sparkling, toasty and traditional Christmas. But, with a secure, proficient fire alarm system in place, and a few simple flame-related considerations, you should be able to relax this holiday in the comforting knowledge that you and your family are safe and sound.