Home fires

The fire is fast! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a large fire. In just two minutes, the fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a household can be engulfed in flames.

The fire is hot! Hot air is more dangerous than flames. Temperatures in fire, indoor, might reach 40 degrees Celsius at floor level and rise to over 300 degrees at eye level. Inhaling very hot air may burn lungs and melt clothes on your skin.

The fire is dark! The fire starts light, but quickly produces black smoke and total darkness.

The fire is fatal! Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames. The fire produces poisonous gases that make people confused and sleepy. Strangulation is the main cause of death from fire, exceeding burns by a ratio of three to one.

Before

Design and practice an evacuation plan:

In case of fire, every second counts. It’s essential for you and your family to be always prepared. An evacuation plan might help to leave the house quickly. Test it twice a year. Below we present some tips to be considered while preparing a plan:

• Find at least two ways to get out of every room if the main entrance is being blocked by fire or smoke. You might use either a window open on the adjacent roof or a folding ladder to escape from the windows of higher floors
• Make sure that the windows aren’t blocked; blinds can be removed quickly
• Practice leaving the house in the dark or with your eyes closed

More fire-safety tips:

• Make digital copies of valuable documents and files
• Sleep with the door closed
• Contact your local fire department for training in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers
• Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler in your home
• Check all household installations regularly
• Don’t use an open fire

Smoke alarms:

A functioning smoke detector significantly increases the chances of surviving a deadly fire in the house.

• Install smoke detectors, preferably of various types
• Place smoke detectors on every level of the house, including a basement, the sleeping area and outside of it
• Test the batteries every month
• Don’t turn off the fire alarm while cooking – this might be a fatal mistake

During

• Crawl low under the smoke to the exit – heavy smoke and poisonous gases accumulate first under the ceiling
• Before you open the door, check the handle and door. If one of them is hot or if there’s a smoke around the door, leave the door closed and use another exit
• Open the door slowly. Prepare to close it quickly if there’s a strong smoke or fire
• If you cannot reach someone in need, leave the place and call the 112 number or the fire department. Tell the operator where the person is
• Inform the firefighters about animals that are being trapped in the building
• If you can’t leave the building, close the door and seal the vents and cracks around the door with a material to prevent smoke from escaping. Call the 112 number or the fire department. Tell them where you are and signal the emergency at the window with a bright cloth or flashlight
• If your clothes catch fire – stop moving immediately, slide down to the ground and cover your face with your hands. Roll over, forwards and backwards until the fire goes out. If it’s impossible, suppress the flames with a blanket or towel. Use cool water for 3 to 5 minutes to treat the burn. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical assistance immediately by calling the 112 number
• If you’re sick or disabled, always keep the phone close to your bed. In case of fire, call the special services
• Use water or fire extinguisher until the fire brigade arrives

After

• Contact local authorities if you need temporary accommodation, food or medicine
• Contact the fire brigade to make sure your stay is safe. Beware of any structural damage caused by the fire
• If you’re insured, consult your insurance company for detailed instructions on how to protect the property, carry out an inventory and contact fire repair companies
• Carry out an inventory of damaged property and objects. Don’t dispose of any damaged goods until you receive a confirmation from the insurer
• Try to locate valuable documents and items
• Throw away food, drinks and medicines

Prevent fires in the house:

A house fire might be avoided! Follow these simple steps to prevent tragedy.

Cooking

  • Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or baking food. If you need to leave, turn off the stove
  • Wear short, tightly-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves while cooking
  • Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “children’s area” – 1 meter from the stove
  • Place a grill pan at least 3 metres away from flammable items, e.g. hanging branches. Create a clear barrier from the forest bedding

Smoking

  • Burn out and completely extinguish a cigarette in an ashtray or a can filled with sand
  • Immerse the cigarette butts and ashes in water before disposing of them. Don’t throw a hot cigarette or ashes in the dustbin
  • Don’t smoke in a house where the oxygen is being used, even if it’s switched off. Oxygen might be explosive and makes a fire burn faster
  • Be vigilant – don’t smoke in bed! If you’re sleepy, you have been drinking or taking drugs causing sleepiness, smoke a cigarette first

Electrical safety and equipment

  • Ragged wires may cause a fire. Replace all worn, old or damaged wires, equipment, or wiring immediately. Don’t lead wires under carpets or furniture
  • If your device has a three-pin plug, use it only with a three-pin socket. Don’t force it into a two-jack socket or extension cord
  • Turn off and replace the light switches that are hot to the touch or their lights flash

Portable heating devices

  • Keep flammable objects at least 1 meter away from portable heating devices
  • Buy approved radiators
  • Check if your portable heater has a thermostat control and will switch off automatically if the device overturns
  • Use the heater in a well-ventilated room

Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces

  • Check and clean the pipes and fireplaces of the stove annually. Every month check if they aren’t damaged or blocked
  • Use fireplaces that are sealed with glass
  • Make sure that the fire is completely extinguished before leaving home or going to bed

Children

  • Teach children that fire is a tool, not a toy
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach and sight of children, preferably in a locker
  • Don’t leave children unattended near running stoves or burning candles

More advice on prevention

  • Don’t use a stove or oven to heat your home
  • Keep flammable liquids away from heat sources
  • It’s prohibited to use portable generators indoor. Refuel them outdoor or in well-ventilated place