How do I prevent...?

Fires

Fires

It’s good news that fires in the home have decreased in recent years, but three quarters of fire deaths and casualties still occur in the home.

Accidents involving fires can cause the most serious types of injury. Toddlers are at particular risk as they tend to be naturally inquisitive. Sadly, accidents can happen in a split second, especially if you’re distracted.

But, by taking a few simple steps, you can help keep your child safe.

 
 

Fire guards

Fire guard

Whether your fire is gas, coal or wood, if you have young children in the house it’s important you put some measures in place to make sure they don’t get hurt:

  • Supervision is important. Don’t leave your little ones alone around fires, either real or electric
  • Keep all fires and heaters well-guarded
  • Use a nursery guard with side clips that fit into fixed wall brackets
  • For fitted or portable heaters with a built-in guard, give extra protection by adding a surrounding guard.
 

Fancy dress

Fancy dress

Whether for a specific occasion like Halloween or playing around the house, young children love to dress up. Unfortunately, fancy dress clothing has caused a number of serious accidents. Find out more about flammability standards here.

Homemade costumes may ignite easily and burn faster than normal clothes. But any costume has the potential to ignite. To help reduce the risk, keep Halloween and dress-up outfits away from fire, burning candles, cigarettes and all other naked flames.

If burning candles are part of your celebrations, always follow their safety guidelines, and remember:

  • Always supervise children and pets if using candles
  • Do not allow children to carry, play, reach over, light or be near burning candles
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended
  • Always extinguish a candle completely after use
  • Take care when using candles at Halloween. Do not carry pumpkins with candles inside, consider using battery-operated candles instead.
 

Smoke alarms

Every home should have a smoke alarm – they save lives, buying you valuable seconds in the event of a fire. Here are some tips to bear in mind:

  • Fit a smoke alarm on every floor of your home
  • Try to choose one that’s either wired to the mains, or has a 10-year battery
  • Test your alarms weekly, and change the battery immediately if it starts chirping
  • If there is a fire, get out and call the fire brigade.

For a more detailed look at how to choose a fire alarm, Which? has an excellent guide.

One of the most important steps you can take to keep your family safe is to make a family fire escape plan, so that everyone knows what they’re doing. If the worst does happen though, and you wake up smelling smoke, you should take the following steps:

  • Keep calm, act quickly and get everyone out of the building as soon as possible
  • Don’t stop to investigate what has happened or try to rescue items
  • If there is smoke, keep low where the air is clearer
  • If you touch a door and it is warm, do not open it! Fire is on the other side
  • Call 999 as soon as you are out of the building.

As we discuss on our Burns page, fireworks can be great fun for the whole family, but too many people, including very young children, are badly hurt every year when things go wrong.

Generally speaking, the safest place to enjoy fireworks is at a large public display – far fewer people are injured here than at smaller family or private parties. However, if you do decide to hold your own garden display, there are steps you can take to make it safer:

  • Only adults should deal with setting up firework displays, the lighting of fireworks and the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been used
  • Children and young people should watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance
  • Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  • Never let children under five use a sparkler
  • Never hold a baby in your arms while you are holding a sparkler
  • When the sparkler has finished put it in a bucket of cold water.

Countless sources of fire in our homes and gardens can cause serious burns or even start a house fire. Here are some to be especially watchful for:

  • Children are fascinated by flames. Keep lighters and matches out of reach
  • Ovens and gas hobs – the kitchen is a dangerous place for small children. Try to keep them out of the kitchen while cooking, or make sure they are well supervised
  • Be wary of leaving electrical equipment around. Children love to watch and copy and may switch things back on without you realising.

NB: To make sure you find out about any problems with your electrical goods, register them at www.registermyappliance.org.uk. You can do this even if you have moved somewhere where a previous owner or landlord’s fridges, washing machines etc. are already in place.

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