Every year approximately 50 people in Ireland die in fires. The vast majority (over 90%) die in houses fires, with the very young and the elderly being particularly vulnerable, accounting for almost half of the fatalities. If you have elderly relatives or neighbors you should visit them regularly and help them carry out a very simple fire safety check on their home. The following common-sense precautions should be applied:-
- Don’t keep newspapers, clothes or combustible materials too close to a fire or heater. If you have an open fire make sure you have an effective spark guard and clean the chimney at least twice a year.
- If you allow smoking in the house, provide large, stable ashtrays. A burning cigarette can smolder for hours before igniting and spreading. Never smoke in bed.
- Matches and lighters should be kept out of the reach of children.
- Check all electrical leads and plugs for deterioration, burning or fraying. Make sure there are no overloaded sockets. Switch off and unplug all appliances when not in use. Get a qualified electrical contactor to carry out installation and repairs to electrical equipment.A cleaner cooker is a lot safer than a greasy one. Keep wires, cloth and oven gloves away front the cooker top.
- Take care with chip pans and hot cooking oil. If your cooking oil catches fire, use a fire blanket to put it out. Do not move the pan or use water to extinguish the flames.
- Candles should be put in proper holders that won’t fall over on heat resistant surfaces, especially tea lights. Candles should not be left burning unattended.
- Always buy new. Second-hand electric blankets may not be safe. Look out for a European Certification Mark such as the new BEAB safety mark or the key mark, on the blanket and the packaging. This means it conforms to the latest European safety standard. Make sure they are only used according to manufacturers’ instructions.
Further fire safety information and downloadable leaflets are available from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.