Article by Louise O’Connell
Fires account for nearly half of all accidental child deaths. And around 6,000 fires a year are caused by children under the age of 10.
You can’t watch your kids 24/7 but there are lots of easy things you can do to prevent a household fire and keep your kids safe.
Here are 10 top tips:
1. Get a smoke alarm and test it weekly
You’re twice as likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a smoke alarm. But you can pick one up for around a fiver at large supermarkets and DIY stores.
2. Know your escape route
You need to get out quickly, so the best escape route is your usual entrance and exit. Have a plan B too in case your usual route is blocked.
Close all doors as you leave as this will give you crucial life-saving seconds and stop the fire from spreading.
3. Talk to the kids
You don’t have to scare them but they need to know the escape route, how to call 999 and what to say.
Also make sure they know:
- Not to touch matches, lighters, candles, fires, ovens or anything else that could cause a fire.
- Not to put things on top of lamps, heaters or anything else that gets hot.
- To tell a grown up if they see a fire hazard, such as matches or lighters lying around.
4. Don’t smoke in bed
Someone dies every three days from a fire caused by a cigarette. Always check that cigarettes are totally stubbed out and never smoke in bed.
5. Check electrical equipment
Did you know that over 7,000 house fires are cause each year by faulty electrics? Even if the appliance is new check that the lead and plug aren’t damaged and that there’s a British or European safety mark. If you’re in any doubt take it back to the shop or throw it away.
6. Don’t overload sockets
Plugging all your electrical appliances into one socket – even an extension socket – can be a fire hazard. Look at the socket or extension lead to see how many amps it can take.
7. Kitchen dangers
Cooking accidents cause more than half of household fires. Here’s how to be fire-safe in the kitchen.
- Never leave kids alone in the kitchen
- Make sure pan handles don’t stick out where they can be easily knocked over.
- If there’s a fire in your kitchen don’t tackle it, turn off the heat if it’s safe to do so, close the door, get out and get help.
- Clean your toaster because breadcrumbs can cause fires. And clean out the grease in your oven or grill as this is a fire hazard too.
8. Candles and scented oil burners
The shocking fact is that more than five fires a day are caused by candles. Make sure candles and oil burners are in a proper container and on a sturdy surface.
Never leave them unattended or where kids can reach them and never leave them near flammable material, such as curtains and cushions.
9. Lighters and matches
Keep matches and lighters away from anything that’s flammable and out of children’s reach. Never leave kids alone with matches and lighters.
10. Do a bedtime check
You’re more at risk from a fire when you’re asleep so make checking for fire hazards part of your night-time routine – you’ll sleep better knowing you and the kids are safe.
Here’s a quick bedtime checklist to help:
- Close all inside doors to stop a fire spreading.
- Check the kitchen – is the cooker off? Is the washing machine unplugged?
- Make sure all exits are clear.
- Are all cigarettes and candles totally stubbed out?
- Turn off heaters and put up fireguards.
- Check that all electrical appliances are turned off – even the small things such as games consoles.
- Make sure door and window keys are where everyone can find them.
Good to Know
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