The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service is reminding people of their advice to keep safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Dan Tasker, senior fire officer for the Isle of Wight, said:
“With everyone spending far more time at home than they normally would, I want to remind Islanders of the need to keep ‘fire safe’.
“Please check that your smoke alarms work once a week — if they don’t, put batteries or a new smoke alarm on your essential items shopping list or these can be ordered online. Early warning saves lives.
“There should be a minimum of one smoke alarm on each floor of your home. Please remember detection does not stop a fire — prevention does.”
As people who don’t usually work from home set up temporary offices, there is a risk of an increase in electrical fires.
Hazards include overloading plug sockets, using counterfeit or incorrect chargers for tablets, laptops and mobile phones and “daisy-chaining” — plugging multiple extension leads together or plugging many multi-socket adaptors into a single socket.
Cooking fires are also a major concern as people are expected to cook more during the day and with schools shut and children at home, parents could get distracted.
Around 60% of fires in the home begin in the kitchen. With that in mind, Islanders should:
• consider fitting a heat alarm — these can be purchased online and are battery powered like smoke alarms
• consider having a fire blanket available — much safer than a fire extinguisher in the kitchen environment
• not leave cooking unattended
• keep tea towels or cloths away from the hob area
• keep the cooker hob and grill as free from fat build up as you can — grease can ignite and cause a fire
• check the hob/grill/cooker is turned off when you finish cooking
• check toasters are not under kitchen cabinets or close to anything that could catch fire
• never put anything metal in a microwave
• always keep an eye on children in the kitchen
Smoking in the home
Smokers should never smoke in bed, or on the sofa when tired as you may doze off. Also never leave cigarettes unattended. It is much safer to smoke outside, but still always check that cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly.
Residents should also think about their routine before going to sleep:
• Close all doors
• Switch off all electrical appliances — do not charge mobile phones, tablets or laptops overnight
• Don’t put washing machine or tumble dryer on overnight
• Turn off heaters
• Make sure all candles and cigarettes are out properly
• Make sure all exit routes are clear
• If your front and back doors are locked by key — leave them in the same place every night so all the family will know where they are
Area Manager Tasker added:
“Know your escape plan — what is your route out of the house. It’s the plan that could save your life in an emergency.
“In a smoky scary atmosphere it is easy to panic and become disorientated. What would each member of your family do if they were woken by the loud bleeping of a smoke alarm and the smell of smoke?
“If you don’t know, then you need to, together make an escape plan. And practice it, so everyone understands what they need to do.”