Fire can seriously damage a business or home as it can result in losses of high value property and possessions, both financially and emotional. However, what is very rarely mentioned when talks about fire prevention and safety is talked about are the smaller, overlooked issues that can cause fires and that’s what we’re going to talk about in this article, what they are, how to prevent them and any products that may be useful.
Designating Smoking Area
A staple in any public area, designated smoking areas are a must have nowadays, however what a lot of smoking areas aren’t thought of when they are picked is the environment around them. From leaves to paper and even dry rubbish can cause a fire should a cigarette butt be dropped into them, either accidentally or deliberated dropped on the ground. There are several preventative measures that can be used to help prevent a fire breaking out in these areas. The first is to pick an area that is free from flammable or fire risk items, or alternatively build a designated area that is away from those items. The second thing is to ensure that the area is kept clean on a regular basis. This doesn’t have to be a big clean, even just a quick 5 minute sweep once a day will help massively in the prevention of fire in this area. The final thing is to ensure that you have enough cigarette disposal options around the smoking area, and to ensure that staff put their cigarette butts in them. Personally, I would recommend at least 1 box fitted to a wall and a couple of trays on a stand, but the choice is yours. For advice on smoking in the workplace, have a look on the HSE website here
Fire Rated Roof Lights
A very often overlooked fire risk if roof lighting. Most modern building have them these days, but what a lot of people don’t realise is that unless they are fire rated rooflights, they can pose a fire risk. Fire rated roof lights are very similar to fire safety doors, in the way that they provide a layer of protection to help slow down the fire, and in regards to rooflights, it can help to slow down the spread of the fire too which can give people additional time to escape the fire.
With modern technology advancing, our offices, public spaces and homes are becoming more digitalised. And while this is generally a good thing as it makes our lives easier, it also presents more fire risks at the same time. Plugs, transformers, charging leads and technology all present the chances of overheating and causing a fire. One of the leading causes of house fires in recent years is technology left plugged in and unsupervised. This isn’t just phones or laptops however, it also includes things such as washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, Christmas lighting and heated drying rails. As a safe rule, don’t leave anything plugged in unsupervised. Always turn it off when not in use or when you’re not present in the house. With the advancement of technology, more options for controlling power in your home or building are becoming commonplace, such as the Phillips Hue bulbs, which can be remotely controlled from your phone or Alexa or the Amazon smart plugs, which allow you to control whether power is on or off to the device plugged into it. However, I recommend if you’re going to buy smart tech like the plugs or lights, that you buy the ones from official, recognisable brands such as the smart plug linked above or Phillips Hue, rather than off brand ones. Although the off brand ones may be cheaper, they can also pose a greater fire risk, as they might not be built either with the same quality level or to the same quality level as the ones from recognisable brands. In this instance it’s worth paying that bit extra for safety and reduced risk of the units going up in flames. I’ve had a pair of the Phillips Hue rainbow bulbs and bridge unit for 3 years, and I haven’t had a problem once!
A lot of homes and offices tend to have a wide range of heating units, from radiators to heated blankets and heaters, and while these are great at keeping us warm, they also are a fire risk if not handled correctly. As the name suggests, these units generate heat of some kind when powered however this also means that they can cause a fire if they are not properly ventilated. As tempting as it may be to snuggle up with these heating units to keep warm, placing blankets or wrapping things around them can cause a fire as it cannot properly ventilate and keep the unit and the item around it cool.
Proper Fire Training & Awareness
Now this one may seem a bit unnecessary, however the human element can be one of the deadliest and easily broken links in the preventative chain. A lot of the time when the vast majority of people are faced with fire, they panic, and in that panic, they can forget information and what they should do. For example, an office block should have at least water, Co2 and foam fire extinguishers, and a fire caused by paper in that office block needs to be put out with water or foam, however, in a moment of panic or in the rush of adrenaline, a person may pick up the Co2 extinguisher, which cannot be used to put out organic matter fires, such as paper. Tjhis, in turn, could cause the fire to get worse, which could also render other fire defence measures useless. The way to get around this is to make sure your staff are fully trained, there are plenty of fire marshals and also that staff members know what to do in the event of a fire flawlessly. Make sure as well that only trained members of staff operate fire extinguishers, as it can cause harm to untrained people using them. To learn more about the various types of fire extinguishers and their uses, check out this website here
Hopefully from this article you’re able to take one or two preventative measures to help you keep your home or workplace safe from fire, but the best thing you can do to help protect your building from fire is to raise awareness. If it’s your business, run fire safety awareness days where your staff can become familiar with how to protect themselves and your business from fire and what to do in the event of a fire, including how to call the fire brigade. Alternatively, if you’re reading this from a homeowner’s perspective you can still do things such as ensuring that everyone in the house knows how to call the fire brigade.