Our lives have changed dramatically during the past month. The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic is affecting the entire world and none of us could have ever predicted this. What started as a worrying news story from the other side of the world is now affecting every single person across the UK, Europe and beyond.
Our jobs and livelihoods have changed dramatically. If you work for an essential service, beating COVID-19 or flattening the curve is now the top priority. Thousands of other workers have been furloughed and millions of people are now working from home. Almost all public spaces are closed, social distancing is the new normal and we’re adapting to this new way of life for at least the next few months.
The UK Government has given a strong message: Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.
Home is the safest place to be right now. By staying home, we’re making it safer for essential service workers, protecting vulnerable people and protecting ourselves. Your home is your sanctuary, now more than ever, so it’s important to keep yourself safe from other household hazards during this time. Keeping your home safe also takes additional pressure away from the emergency services and there’s no better time than now to do a quick safety check.
Whether you have a houseful with family, live with housemates or you live alone, this blog post is full of practical tips to help you take the necessary fire safety precautions to protect your home.
Having an up-to-date escape route is crucial to fire safety at home.
Go over your escape plan in your mind regularly, even if it seems straightforward, and make sure every member of your household knows the plan too.
The best way to escape your home is through your normal route, such as the front door, so make sure that keys are kept in an easily accessible place. Some locks in your home may be fiddly or have a special knack to them, if that’s the case then make sure everyone else in your household knows how to use them too.
You should always have an alternative route out of your home in case your usual way is blocked. This could be a back door or a window, so the same precautions around keys and locks apply.
It’s also a good idea to keep your doorways and hallways clear, do not store large items like bicycles in such a way that would block your exit in an emergency.
If you have children, you could try a few practice drills with them as part of their new home learning routine.
Smoke detectors can only save lives when they work properly. Use this time at home to teach the family about the importance of checking your smoke alarms and ensure they work correctly.
You should perform weekly checks on the smoke detectors in your home. You can do this by pressing and holding the test button until the alarm sounds.
You should also clean the smoke detectors regularly (using a vacuum cleaner) to keep them free from dust. If there’s too much dust build-up inside the detector, it may not detect smoke accurately, or even set off a false alarm! Why not build this into your regular cleaning routine from now on?
Never cover your smoke detectors, paint over them, move them around or disconnect them entirely.
If your home has a Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector, why not test this at the same time too?
Now that meals out in pubs, restaurants and cafes are all on pause, more people find themselves having to cook at home. There’s also been a surge of panic buying in major supermarkets across the country, so many of us are having to be more creative with the meals we’re cooking as our favourites may not be on the shelves.
Having more time on our hands may encourage more culinary creativity, but remember these important safety tips during your home cooking experiments:
Besides cooking, almost all home-based activities require electricity, so usage is likely to be higher whilst most of the nation is in isolation at home.
Here are a few simple precautions you can take to improve the electrical safety in your home:
Here are a few more tips for fire safety at home that you should be aware of:
They may look pretty and make your home smell nice, but a candle is still an open flame. Never leave candles, oil burners, wax melts or incense sticks unattended. It’s easy to forget about them or go to bed without blowing them out.
Personal hygiene and cleanliness are vital in preventing the spread of COVID-19. But many of the cleaning products used to disinfect household surfaces are flammable and should be stored safely and away from any sources of ignition. You should never mix different cleaning products together, as they could cause chemical reactions, other health risks or even fires.
There’s also been a growing trend for making homemade surface cleansers and hand sanitiser, since it’s now very difficult to get hold of in shops or online. One of the main ingredients is isopropanol alcohol, which is also highly flammable, so make sure you store it safely with your other cleaning products.
Smoking inside your home poses an additional fire hazard, besides the well-known health risks associated with smoking. Never leave lit cigarettes balanced in an ash tray, as it’s so easy for them to get knocked over.
If you must smoke at home, then take a few precautions such as using a proper ashtray, emptying it regularly and safely, and never smoke in bed. However, there’s no better time than now to quit, being a smoker certainly won’t help with Coronavirus symptoms.
Also remember to take care with e-cigarettes/vapes, only use the charger supplied and never charge your vape with a phone, tablet or other charger. You should check your vape regularly whilst charging and never leave it unattended for an extended period of time. Like with mobiles, charge your vape on a clean, flat surface away from anything that could easily catch fire.
As we’re all living through unprecedented challenging times, keeping yourself safe is one of the most important things you can do right now. By looking after ourselves, that means we’re able to better help other people. By keeping our homes safe, we’re taking additional pressure away from the emergency services so they can focus on the battle against COVID-19.
Fire safety at home is an important topic at any given time, this article has covered some simple but important precautions you can take to reduce the risk of fires in the home.
For more information, read the Government’s Fire Safety Guidance advice. If you’re looking for fun games and activities to use with children, South Wales Fire & Rescue Service have produced some excellent educational games and resources to try at home.