Whilst the clocks turn back an hour this weekend, the dark evenings present the perfect opportunity for roaring fires, cosy candlelit evenings and of course welcome celebrations such as Halloween, Bonfire Night and Diwali which can be a spectacle to behold with fireworks, bonfires and candles bringing the autumn months to life.
During this fun and frivolous time, it is easy to get distracted by the spirit of the moment. So allow us to bring to light a few aspects of safety in your home. As the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’. So, a little precaution and some thoughtful planning beforehand, will allow you to enjoy the coming festivities with added reassurance and peace of mind.
Nine out of ten accidental house fires are caused by electrical appliances. Faulty wiring and overheated plug sockets cause over 6,000 fires throughout the UK each year. During our festive celebrations, we are undoubtedly going to be setting up wired lighting around the home, decorative fairy lights for example. It is therefore important to be mindful of how we use plug sockets, as excessive plugs and muddled extension leads can be a danger to your home. As a general rule, look out for the maximum amp capacity on the socket or extension leads. Most plugs allow for an allowance of 13amps, which would be two sockets at five amps and one at three amps. For larger appliances or lighting, try to stick to an individual plug socket as a precautionary measure, regardless of the stated maximum amp capacity.
This may sound like the most obvious piece of advice, but during the excitement of festivities it is easy to forget the simplest rules; make sure bonfires and fireworks are lit far from houses, trees, hedges, fences, shrubs and sheds. As an extra precaution, keep a bucket of water or bag of sand nearby to dampen a fire. Before proceeding with any of your purchased fireworks, always read the instructions and never go back to a lit firework.
Make sure you switch off freestanding electric heaters when they are not in use. Look out for a safety cut-off feature if you are purchasing a new heater. This will ensure it automatically switches off when the room reaches a certain temperature. At the same time, make sure clothing and furnishings are kept well out of the way.
Candles are popular all year round, with many of us using them for their soothing sensory benefits or creating a romantic ambience for an evening dinner. At this time of year candles are perfect to add that mysterious spook to our Halloween decorations or add light to a room for Diwali festivities. However you choose to use them, be careful of the surrounding environment. It is ever so easy for children or pets to knock over candles, so be sure to not leave them unattended, or close to flammable fabrics and furnishings.
With Halloween parties and trick or treating, this is certainly a popular season for fancy dress, but have you thought about how flammable outfits can be? Fabrics catch light very quickly, and synthetics more so. Fire-retardant spray, would make a good investment as a precautionary measure, spray the fancy dress outfits, the table sheets or anything else which will be exposed to fire before the big event. The chemical can be sprayed on most fabrics to hinder flammability.
With so much to organise it is easy to forget things, a vital ingredient for the cooking, extra drinks or maybe the pan on the hob? Nearly 13,000 house fires a year start in the kitchen, so try to keep the handles out of easy reach, and keep cloths and fabrics away from the cooker. Why not set a timer, so it rings as an indicator of when you need to check on your cooking? In the event a pan does catch fire, don’t throw water on it or move it, turn the heat off at the source, and use an oven mitt to put a lid on the pan. Never use water to put out grease fires, instead, throw baking soda or salt over it, or try to smother it with a damp towel.
Regular testing of the smoke alarm falls to the bottom of our endless list of things to do. A regular check will do no harm and will give you peace of mind that an alarm will be raised if a problem occurs. If you do not have a smoke alarm, do invest in one, as statistics highlight the real danger you pose to yourself and your family if your smoke alarm is broken.
Panic is what we all do in the event of an emergency, so plan ahead. Think of an escape route, make sure keys are in a reachable spot, and doorways are kept clear so you know exactly what to do and can guide the family in the event of a fire. This simple and thoughtful planning will help ensure the kids and family remain calm.
MOT your appliances
Regular maintenance of appliances will not only help them to last longer, but will also ensure they are running safely, to avoid any potential fires. Check your gas appliances, for any leaks or wearing pipes. Also, clean the lint tray of the tumble dryer, which whilst enhancing the safety, will also maximise efficiency.
From all of us at Mackenzie Smith, we hope you enjoy the upcoming festivities of Bonfire night and Diwali with your loved ones, with care and safety in mind.
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