Many fires that occur in flats for homes are easily preventable. Flat owners should be aware of the potential dangers in their dwelling, and plan to take proactive steps to protect themselves from the dangers of fire. This article looks at the issues involved about the actions blocks of flat owners and homeowners can take…
To provide those valuable extra time to escape a burning building, a smoke alarm is an absolute essential. Smoke alarms detect the smoke during the early occurrence of a fire. Smoke alarms should also be tested to ensure the batteries have not expired.
The alarms should be placed at every level of the block of flat, and ideally in side every room, hallway and stairs of the block complex. It is also important to keep smoke alarms dust free and to test them once a week, to ensure they are working correctly. Batteries need to be replaced at regular intervals, usually annually.
Why Does Fire Occur?
Most of the half a million household fires that occur each year within the United Kingdom, happen because of household actions from cooking, cigarettes, overloading electrical sockets and lighted matches involved with gas fires, candles or open fires.
The kitchen is one of the major areas of flat or home, where fires tend to start. Drying up clothes or oven gloves left next to the cooker, or near to the grill can catch alight, due to a build-up of fat and grease. The cooker can also facilitate the fire where a electrical cables are left trailing nearby, that melt and expose electrical wires. Microwave fires occur when metal metal cooking utensils or metallic packaging is placed inside the microwave.
Fire sometimes occurs, when people are cooking meals and are subsequently distracted. The main reason for these distractions are when people are called away to answer the front door, speak on the telephone, deal with young children elsewhere in the house, or are intoxicated with alcohol or prescription drugs.
Electrical appliances that are not serviced and looked after properly, are another major cause of fire in the kitchen. In particular, toasters that are not cleaned out to remove crumbs from the crumb tray, sockets overloaded with white appliances, leaking appliances that cause a short. In addition, any ventilation points, or extractor fans that have not been serviced, to avoid blockages may contribute to a fire and it’s rate of spread.
Plan an Escape Route
When new residents enter a block of flats for the first time, they should familiarise themselves with the layout of the block, as soon as they get there. This will enable them to plan an escape route by checking where fire exits, smoke doors, and stairs are located. Planning an escape route saves essential time in the unlikely event of a real fire. If an alarm goes off in the middle of the night, residents may wake up feeling disorientated, and so preparation during daylight hours will help during an emergency. If there is a real fire, get everyone out of the building as soon as possible and call 999.
If there are other residents in the block, make sure they are aware of where the fire exits are, and everybody knows what to do in the event of an emergency. Make sure you know where the keys to any communal windows and doors, and make sure that they are not blocked by bikes or other large items left in hallways, which may impede the speedy exit, in the event of a fire.
Understand Fire Hazards in the Home
Some of the contents of your flat or home may represent a fire hazard, although they may not be obvious at first sight. In particular, check upholstered furniture is fire resistant. Furniture made prior to 1988 may not be resistant, and the soft furnishing catches fire it may give off poisonous smoke.
Ordinary cooking oil is another prime fire hazard, if left on to heat up may catch fire, (while you are distracted elsewhere by an unexpected telephone call or some other distraction). Never leave oven gloves or dish towels near to oven hobs or other flammable objects. Never leave flammable objects such as matches or candles in reach of children, in drawers which they can access. Clean out your toaster on a regular basis, as any old bread crumbs that are stuck inside may catch alight and of cause a fire. Smokers are always told to never smoke in bed and properly stub out finished cigarettes properly.
Lastly, overloading electrical appliances in dual plug sockets, can cause an electrical fire. There are also many gas and solvent based products, which we keep in the kitchen quite innocently, such as air fresheners, furniture polish and other aerosol products. If left directly in the sunlight, these can heat up and explode and cause a fire.
Dealing With a Fire
If you do have a fire in the kitchen, don’t take any risks – get everyone out of your home and call 999. Keeping a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket inside the kitchen to use in case of emergencies, is a sensible idea. If a pan catches fire; Don’t move it (it is likely to be extremely hot); Turn off the heat if it’s safe to do so (but never lean over a pan to reach the controls); If you have a fire blanket, put it over the pan; Don’t use a fire extinguisher on a pan of oil (the force of the extinguisher can spread the fire); If you have put the fire out, leave the pan to cool completely. If you have an electrical fire in the kitchen: Pull the plug out, (or switch off the power at the fuse box); This may be enough to stop the fire immediately; Smother the fire with a fire blanket, (or use a dry powder or carbon dioxide extinguisher); Remember: never use water on an electrical fire.
To prevent electrical fires, identify potential area of risk. Most notably; hot plugs and sockets, badly wired plugs, frayed power leads, repaired power leads, overloaded sockets, badly positioned cables and water near electrical items. Electrical items should be maintained properly. In particular, use sockets safely, throw away damaged cables, turn off and unplug, use the right fuses in your plugs.
Fire Safety in a Block of Flats- A guide from Assetsure.