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How to protect your home from Fire

Skill Level: Beginner

Introduction

In every home there are numerous, potential sources from which a fire may originate.  

 
Look around your home…you are surrounded by potential sources of ignition. In every room there is electrical wiring and appliances, in many homes there is gas also.
 
As a homeowner it is therefore important that you are prepared, and you have some basic fire fighting equipment on hand in case of emergency. It is important that you take the time to assess the potential fire hazard areas within your home, and put safeguards in place where appropriate.

 

Electrical wiring and Gas appliances

Prevention is better than cure! That is certainly true in the case of fire. Apart from taking the most simplest of precautions such as; using fire guards, not leaving cookers unattended, careless smoking habits, you should also check electrical and gas appliances and connections.
 
The obvious things to look out for include;
 
  • Broken and exposed electrical plugs and sockets
  • Loose wiring to sockets and plugs
  • Badly and dangerously joined and fitted electrical wiring and cables
  • Faulty electrical appliances
  • Faulty gas appliances
  • Faulty, worn or damaged gas connections

Fire warning and fire detectors

Perhaps the most important and most effective method of fire and smoke detection is some form of smoke alarm. Fire is always accompanied by smoke.
 
As a guide, smoke alarms should be fitted in every room where a fire could be likely to start; locate smoke alarms within approximately 7 metres of any type of fire fitting or heating appliance. Living rooms and kitchens should be the first rooms to check and fit smoke alarms. Fit alarm(s) within 3 metres or so, from bedroom doors also.
 
If the smoke alarm is to be ceiling mounted, then make sure you fit it a short distance (30cm) from the wall, and do not too near ceiling hung electrical light fittings. If the smoke alarm is to be wall mounted then fix it at least 30cm below ceiling height.
 
The smoke alarm will be of no use, or offer any protection, if the battery is dead! So check and test your alarm frequently.

Fire extinguishers

If you discover a small fire within the home, and it is safe to do so, you may wish to tackle the situation yourself, and this case it essential you have the correct type of extinguisher at hand.
 
Under no circumstances should you attempt to tackle a fire if any of the following situations prevail;
 
  • There is imminent danger of the fire spreading and getting out of control.
  • The fire is in close proximity to a gas appliance or gas cylinders.
  • Your exit/emergency route is in danger of being cut off by either fire or smoke.
 
If you cannot subdue the fire, then try and ensure that any windows are closed when you leave the room, and close the door behind you. Draught and wind will only feed the fire.
If you discover a small fire within the home, and it is safe to do so, you may wish to tackle the situation yourself, and this case it essential you have the correct type of extinguisher at hand.
 
Under no circumstances should you attempt to tackle a fire if any of the following situations prevail;
 
  • There is imminent danger of the fire spreading and getting out of control.
  • The fire is in close proximity to a gas appliance or gas cylinders.
  • Your exit/emergency route is in danger of being cut off by either fire or smoke.
 
If you cannot subdue the fire, then try and ensure that any windows are closed when you leave the room, and close the door behind you. Draught and wind will only feed the fire.

Types of fire extinguisher

In order to meet current standards and regulations, all fire extinguishers have red coloured bodies, and display a colour coded band to indicate the type of extinguisher it is, and its uses.
 
Water extinguishers are ideal for organic materials such as wood, paper, and cloth, but is not suitable for flammable materials or electrical fires. These extinguishers are generally coloured completely red.
 
Foam extinguishers are used and are also effective for free burning materials such as wood, cloth and paper, in addition to most flammable liquids. These extinguishers have a red coloured body with a cream coloured band as indication of type and use.
 
Powder extinguishers have a red body with a blue band and are suitable for flammable liquids, burning electrical apparatus, wood, paper, and cloth materials. Powder extinguishers tend to smother without cooling the heat source, and therefore risks re-ignition.

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon Dioxide extinguishers are identified by a red body and a black band. These extinguishers are good for just about every type of fire – Flammable liquids, electrical fires, and any free burning material. However, these extinguishers are not suitable for fires in confined spaces due to the fumes they generate. Care must also be used when handling this type of extinguisher due to the extremely low temperatures generated by the freezing pressurised gasses.

Tools you will need:
Duracell Safety Kit with Smoke Detector & Torch
Duracell Safety Kit with Smoke Detector & Torch
- Kidde K100 Fire Blanket 1m x 1m (BS EN1869-1997)
Kidde K100 Fire Blanket 1m x 1m (BS EN1869-1997)
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