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Covid-19 (coronavirus)

Six things you can do to protect yourself from fire when you’re at home during coronavirus


We'll all be spending more time at home during this lockdown period, so here are a few top tips on how you can protect your home from the risk of fire. And by doing this, you'll be protecting our emergency services. For every fire or road traffic collision that is prevented, it reduces the risk of spreading coronavirus for all of us.

If you need to call the fire service or any other 999 responder, please ensure you inform the call operator if there is anyone at the property that has covid-19 symptoms or is in isolation so we can take the necessary precautions.


1. Check and clean your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

You probably know you should test your smoke alarm, but how often do you actually do it? As a general rule, you should test both your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm once a month. If you don’t have a smoke alarm on each floor of your home, or a carbon monoxide alarm near the source of gas, now is the time to buy one – they are available in DIY stores, electrical shops and most supermarkets (and online).

What to look for when you buy a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm:

  • CO alarms: British Standard EN 50291 and ideally has a British kite mark.
  • Smoke alarm: British Standard EN 14604
  • If you can, buy alarms with a 10 year battery life.

Statistics sadly tell us you’re twice as likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a smoke alarm that works. More people die from smoke inhalation than the fire itself.

2. Take more care when cooking

Around half the fires we attend are started by cooking, so take the following steps to ensure you are safe:

  • Always keep an eye on your cooking. Don’t get distracted by work, children, or animals.
  • Double check your cooker, grill and hob are turned off when you have finished cooking. It’s a basic one but an easy mistake to make
  • Keep tea towels and clothing away from the hob as it can easily catch fire.

Read our cooking safety advice

3. Take care when charging your devices

We attend a number of fires which start from an electrical issue, such as a laptop, PC, wiring, cables or plugs. This includes chargers for devices. To avoid this:

4. Are you using electricals safely?

If you’ve set up a temporary office area in your house, you may have more electrical items around than usual. Remember that extension leads generate heat - especially when high powered appliances are used, for example heaters, kettles and hair straighteners.

  • A lot of people use 4-way adapters to increase the number of appliances plugged into a single socket, but this can risk overloading the socket.
  • If you use a coiled or wind-up extension lead you must fully unwind it when you use it. If it’s wound up it can generate heat and cause fire.
  • Never join extension leads together in a daisy chain to increase capacity or distance. This just increases the electrical load at the original wall socket.

How to work out what you can plug into an extension lead

  • As a rule of thumb, the extension lead itself has a 13 amp fuse, therefore only one appliance with a 13 amp fuse, such as a heater, can be in used on the lead at any one time.
  • If you use smaller appliances that have 3 or 5 amp fuses (but may only use 0.5 amps of electricity), such as a laptop charger or printer, then you may be able to use an extension lead for multiple appliances up to a total of 13 amps.
  • Never overload an extension lead by plugging in appliances that will exceed the maximum current rating. This could cause the plug or lead to overheat.


don't overload sockets

Find out if your appliances will overload your socket using the Electrical Safety First calculator

Read more electrical safety advice

5. Heat your home safely


When spending more time at home during lockdown in winter, you're probably finding you need to heat it more. Both open fires and portable heaters can pose a fire risk.


Heaters

  • Heaters should always be plugged directly into the wall socket.
  • Keep heaters at least one metre away from curtains and furniture.
  • Never use heaters for drying clothes.
  • Always unplug electric heaters when you go out or go to bed.
  • Only use gas or paraffin heaters in well ventilated areas.

Open fires for heating

  • Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained. Ensure they are swept at least once a year.
  • Make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against sparks and hot embers.
  • Ensure the fire's embers are properly put out before you go to bed.


6. Make a bedtime routine checklist


You are more at risk from a fire when you are asleep, it is a good idea to check your home before you go to bed.

  • Close all internal doors at night to stop a fire from spreading.
  • Turn off and unplug all electrical appliances/chargers unless they are designed to be left on such as your freezer.
  • Check your cooker is off.
  • Don’t leave the washing machine or dishwasher on overnight.
  • Make sure all escape routes are clear.

 

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