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How to fireproof your property

Being conscious of fire safety in the home is incredibly important, as fire can cause serious damage and can even result in death. According to statistics compiled by the UK government 'a total of 286,500 fires were attended in 2010-11, of which 44,700 (16%) were in dwellings’ and 388 of them proved to be fatal. With just a small amount of effort on your behalf you could reduce the risk of fire in your property and, as European Child Safety Alliance states, ‘early warning devices [can] assist in reducing residential fires by 71% when batteries are operational’.

 There are many ways that you can make your home safer so that the risk of fire is reduced, and you won’t even need to overexert yourself in any way. Just a little bit of knowhow and an understanding of the seriousness of fire will suffice.

 Here are some tips on what you can do within your property to reduce the risk of fire:

 1)      Fit a smoke alarm

As the Directgov website on fire safety states, 'you are more than twice as likely to die in a fire at home if you haven't got a working smoke alarm'. Therefore, this is the first obvious step to fire proofing your property. The County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service recommends homeowners to install ‘at least one smoke alarm on every floor’ of their property, although the Directgov website, again, recommends that rooms with large electrical appliances in, such as computers, should also be fitted with smoke alarms in case of an electrical fire.

 2)      Plan an escape route

Every home and business should have a viable fire escape plan in place, and every occupant of that building should be familiar with it.

Directgov suggests that the best fire escape route is the way you usually enter and exit your home, as it will be the most familiar to you, and that you should consider any essential items you may require during your emergency exit, such as a torch. You should always have a second escape route available should the first be impossible in the event of a fire, and both exits need to be kept clear. If you have children, older or disabled people living with you, consider how you will help them to escape, and also think about how to get pets out of the home in the event of a fire.

 3)      Be careful when cooking

Kitchen fires can be incredibly common and, according to the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, ‘a significant number of cooking related fires start when people come home from an evening at the pub after consuming alcohol, start to cook something and then fall asleep on the sofa’.

 When cooking you should never leave any pans unattended and you should not light gas fires with matches and lighters - instead, use the inexpensive spark devices that can be bought for this purpose. Saucepan handles should be turned to the back of the cooker to stop them from potentially catching on things and overturning, and people need to be especially cautious when cooking with hot oil. When using a deep fat fryer it should never be filled by more than a third, people should test the oil's temperature before using it, all food should be dried before being placed in hot oil, smoking oil should never be used and people should never leave a fryer unattended when in use.

 4)      Stub cigarettes out

The Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service gave advice on how to stop cigarettes from causing a fire in the home, and it tells people to stub cigarettes out thoroughly, to test smoke alarms weekly, to never smoke in bed and to never take drugs or drink when smoking to avoid accidents. People should also never leave a lit cigarette unattended, and proper ashtrays should be used to make sure they don't tip over and cause a fire.

 5)      Store matches out of reach of children

Fires started by matches increased by 10 per cent to 137 from 2006 in the UK, and so it is very important that parents teach their children safe practices for using matches and other ignition sources, and that these items are stored out of reach of them to ensure fire safety.

 Children are fascinated with flame and fire in general. It is often this natural curiosity that leads to tragedy and it’s sensible to keep matches and lighters well above the level of reach of any small child. A curious child may well climb on a chair, remember this when finding a safe place.

 6)      Keep electrical items in good condition

Many fires are caused by faulty electrical items, so insure that all repairs to such items are made by a reputable appliance repair company rather than attempting to do it yourself, unless you are absolutely clear on what you are doing. Make sure that all electrical items are left switched off when unattended.

 So remember, if you would like to decrease the risk of fire in your home, ensure that you have fireproofed your property with these simple measures.