We all like to get cosy and warm during the chilly winter months, but it’s important that we do so safely. To help you and your family prevent a fire from breaking out in your home we’ve highlighted some of the biggest threats and some ways you can overcome them.
It’s very easy to forget to blow out candles. A simple substitute is to use LED tea lights instead. If you must use real candles, make sure they fit securely into candleholders and keep them well away from anything flammable and at least 4 inches away from other candles.
Never leave your mobile phone, laptop, tablet, computer equipment etc. charger plugged in overnight or when you leave the house. They can be especially dangerous when left on beds or couches.
Pots and pans left on the hob can very easily overheat and lead to a fire in your home. Never, ever leave food unattended on the hob. If you must leave the room, switch off the hob and place pots and pans on a heat resistant surface.
In the event of a grease fire, never attempt to extinguish it with water. Water and oil don’t mix so the water will sink to the bottom of the pan and evaporate straight away whilst causing the burning grease to disperse and spread – instead, use a fire blanket to smother the flames.
With Christmas on the way, it’s important to remember to keep your tree well away from heaters, open fires and flames. If you purchase a real Christmas tree, make sure to keep it well watered, as dried out Christmas trees can easily catch fire. If you have an artificial Christmas tree be sure it has the CE safety mark and is flame retardant. For Christmas tree lights, those with a CE safety mark are best. And don’t forget to unplug all decorations and lights before going to bed.
Old or deteriorating electrical cords can be extremely dangerous so make sure to regularly check their condition and repair or replace them if you need to. Electricians can carry out annual checks of your home’s wiring so you can rest assured all is safe.
With winter fast approaching people are likely to reach for their electric blankets. It is important you switch off your electric blanket before going to sleep; only leave it turned on if it has thermostatic controls for safe all-night use. If any of the wires seem damaged or worn you must throw out the electric blanket.
Make sure you never overload your plug sockets. Only use one socket extension lead per socket and never ever plug an extension lead into another extension lead. Check the rating of your extension leads before use, most will be 13A which means it cannot handle more than 13 amps or 3000 watts of power.
Remember to plug out lamps and electrical appliances before bed.
Keep lighters and matches well out of reach of children, and teach them about fire safety. Create a fire safety and escape plan for the family to follow. Also teach family members how to use a fire extinguisher and fire blanket.
Portable heaters should always be used with caution. Keep them at least 1m away from curtains, furniture and bedding and remember to never leave them on overnight.
If you have an open fire be sure to have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
It is of utmost importance that you have a smoke alarm on each floor of your home, and that they are checked regularly. Every home should also have at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types (look for A-B-C rating on the label).
Cigarettes are the cause of up a quarter of all house fires in Ireland1. If you do smoke, it is best to do so outside as smoldering cigarette butts are extremely dangerous if near flammable surfaces. Otherwise it is a good idea to keep some water in your ashtrays to ensure that all cigarette butts are fully extinguished. And remember to never smoke in bed.
By implementing these safety tips, you can help to lessen the chances of a fire occurring in your home. However, in the unfortunate event that the Fire Brigade is called to put out a fire in your home, we at Aviva will pay up to €1,500 to cover the charges, giving you more peace of mind. To learn more about Aviva home insurance click here.
1 The Irish Times, Department of the Environment report, 2015
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