The safest method of dealing with fires is to take steps to prevent them. The leading causes of property fires are faulty wiring and power outlets, yet these are also arguably the most easily avoided fires. This article covers some basic steps in Fire Prevention and looks at the importance of Fire Safety Awareness.
Fire Safety Awareness – Prevention
Check all the cords in your premises for signs of fraying or wear and tear, replacing any damaged wires that you find. Make use of surge protectors, especially on high voltage electronics, to prevent them catching fire during power spikes. You should also avoid placing rugs or other coverings over wires wherever possible, and otherwise not pinching them.
The kitchen is the place where most people will imagine fires starting in, and there are also steps you can take to make it a safer place. Built up grease or residue can ignite, so frequently cleaning cooking appliances is a vital step to take in reducing fire risks. Unfortunately, the easiest way to prevent kitchen fires is the most often neglected way; never leaving pans or pots unattended. Simply keeping an eye on what you’re cooking can be the greatest way to prevent a devastating accident.
Fire Safety Awareness – Prevention in Residential or Care homes
In residential or care homes another utility that is often the cause of fires is the dryer. The tips for electric wires apply to dryers, but they also have their own special requirements too. Cleaning out the lint filter after every load, in addition to cleaning any debris that collects beneath or behind the dryer, can prevent the dryer from overheating and catching alight. You should also clean the dryer vent out regularly.
The final main cause of residential fires (and office blocks) comes from heating systems. If the premises still use a classic fireplace, having the chimney cleaned on a regular basis is vital to allow the heat and ashes to rise naturally and thus prevent a fire.
You should also only use the correct fuel; damp wood, cardboard, trees, paper, and boxes are all fuels that can easily spark chimney fires. If you want to use a pellet or wood stove, then make sure you either follow the installation instructions to the letter or have it installed by a professional. If you choose to use a space heater, then ensure it is away from furniture or other flammable items, ensuring you never turn it on if you can smell gas.
If a workplace or residential fire Breaks Out
When a fire breaks out, the very first thing to do surprisingly is not to call 999 as many would think. Your priority is to alert everyone in the building. If it is a patients private home, then shout and gather everyone together. If you are in a public building or workplace, sound the fire alarm. Leave the building calmly and quickly using the designated escape routes. All businesses should have a fire safety checklist and escape plan.
If leaving a clients home, the exit should normally be the entrance to the house, so it is important in advance to clear this area of any possible blockages; having access to a second exit could be an option should the primary exit be blocked. When escaping a burning building, do so quickly. Don’t go back for any valuables.
If there is heavy smoke, and the patient is well enough to get on all fours encourage them to crawl to ensure they stay below the smoke line as it rises. Check every door with the back of your hand before opening it, if it is warm, there is a chance that fire has spread to that room. In this instance do not open the door.
Fire Safety Awareness Infogram
Once you leave a room, you should make sure to close any doors behind you, as this will slow the spread of fire. Always try and stay with another enabled person if possible – since that way you can guide each other and people will know you are missing quicker if you get stuck.
Should your clothes catch fire, then the simple advice of stop, drop, and roll is the best option since this reduces the damage that will be caused to your face and is an efficient way to smother out the flames.
Hopefully, whatever building you’re in will have an appropriate fire extinguisher. All places of work and care homes should have these as standard. While anyone can use a fire extinguisher, it is important to know what you are doing with them. If you have never used one before do not waste time trying to operate one unless absolutely necessary. Different types of fire require different extinguishers to put a fire out safely.
For example, you should never use a water-based extinguisher on an electrical fire. If you know what is burning, then check the extinguisher, as it will display what type of fire it is to be used with. TutorCare offers a practical fire extinguisher training course that teaches candidates how to use each type of fire extinguisher and looks at how to perform routine safety checks.
If you are in a workplace or care home that has an elevator do not be tempted to use when a fire has been discovered. Always use the stairs.
Finally, once you are safely outside, call 999. If anyone is missing, do not go in under any circumstances. Inform the fire-fighters who is missing and give them details of any disabilities they may have as well as last known location. Returning to the property puts yourself and the firefighters at further risk when they could be helping others.
TutorCare specialises in on-site and online training with courses covering all aspects of fire safety. They offer fire extinguisher refresher courses, fire prevention awareness sessions, fire safety training with accreditation from the Chartered Insitute of Environmental Health (CIEH Fire Awareness Level 1, CIEH Fire Safety Principles Level 2 and CIEH Fire Safety Risk Assessment Level 3). Fire Marshalling courses and Risk Assessment training are also available.
For those that already have the knowledge and skills, and are in a mentoring or supervisory role TutorCare can assist with further in-house training via their Fire Marshal Train the Trainer and Fire Extinguisher Train the Trainer programmes.
Further Reading (Fire Safety Awareness)
The government provides detailed information on what to do in any situations involving fire:- https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/what-do-if-theres-fire
For those living or otherwise based in high-rise buildings, more specific advice can be found here:- https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/fire-safety-high-rise-accommodation