Most people think they know how to deal with a fire at home, but the truth is: you’re probably not as prepared as you think you are. In the heat of the moment (pun intended), you may not react in the best way.
Did you know that putting water on an oil or grease fire will make it literally explode? Seriously, don’t do that.
If you didn’t know that, then there may be some other fire safety tips you need to know about as well. Also, you need to know this stuff before you ever need to use the information. Hopefully you’ll never need to use it.
So what are the most common risk factors in the home and how should you deal with them?
What can cause a fire at home?
Be careful in the kitchen
According to the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, there were 1,565 preventable fires just in Melbourne in 2015. And 45% percent of those started in the kitchen.
Kitchen fires are often caused by distractions. If you get pulled away from the stove while something is cooking, it doesn’t take that long for it to catch fire.
Usually, the best course of action is to cover the flaming food with a fire blanket, removing its access to oxygen to put it out. Get a fire blanket if you don’t have one already and make sure you keep it near the stove. They’re better than using a wet tea towel, which may also work, because they’re specifically designed to heat resistant enough to smother a fire.
If it looks like the fire is too big for you to put out on your own, that means it probably is. Trust your instincts; if a fire is too big then you need to get out of the building and call 000
This really can’t be emphasised enough. You need to change the batteries in your smoke alarms every time you change your clocks for daylight savings. Your phone might change the time itself, but your car probably doesn’t. So there’s no reason to forget.
If a fire breaks out while you’re asleep, a smoke alarm will give you the best chance of getting out of your home without serious injury or death.
All modern homes should have been fitted with smoke alarms when they were constructed, all you need to do is change the batteries.
Before you fire up the barbie
There are ads for this on TV every summer, but just in case you haven’t seen them, you need to check that your gas tank isn’t leaking before you fire up the barbie.
Just pour a bit of soapy water over the connection wear the pipe meets the tank. If you see bubbles; it’s leaking gas. If there are no bubbles, you’re good to go.
When you’re finished, turn the gas off at the valve on the tank to prevent any gas leaking out of the BBQ.
Heaters and appliances
Electrical faults in heaters and appliances are another common cause of preventable fires in the home.
This can happen when heaters are left on for long periods of time in winter months. It can also happen when there are faults with appliances, or if electrical circuits are overloaded.
An electrical fire is best fought with a fire extinguisher. The best type of fire extinguisher for the home is the type which uses dry powder to deprive the fire of oxygen; these are safe to use on both electrical and cooking fires.
Fire places and candles
The only type of fire at home should be contained fires, such as in fireplaces and candles. But remember not to leave either unattended or near other flammable objects like textiles, and always use a fireplace screen.
If you have a fireplace at home, always let the fire burn down or go out before going to bed. Again, this is why having smoke alarms and a fire extinguisher is so important.
Author: Bulbeck Fire is a manufacturer of fire extinguishers and other firefighting equipment for residential, commercial, and industrial applications.