Picture the scene: Twinkling lights on the Christmas tree, the glow from a few strategically placed scented candles and a roaring open fire. It paints quite the festive scene doesn’t it?
Did you know that the fire brigade is called out to over 60,000 fires in the home each year, with over 500 people dying and 10,000 people being injured as a result? Open fires are one of the major causes of fire in the home, so knowing how to stay safe around them is essential for ensuring Christmas 2013 is remembered for all the right reasons!
There are a few simple steps to bear in mind when tending to and maintaining an open fire in your home:
Keep your chimney swept
Your fireplace is likely to be very busy at this year (providing you’ve been very good) so making sure it’s squeaky clean is essential to help prevent against blockages, smoke leaks, inadequate ventilation, dangerous downdrafts and tar build up.
If your fire is regularly used, this job should be undertaken twice each year by a registered sweep and checked by a member of the NACS (National Association of Chimney Sweeps). Don’t be tempted to cut corners and attempt this yourself.
Keep furniture a safe distance away
Whilst it is very tempting to move your armchair as close as possible to the fire during chilly winter evenings, this could be an accident waiting to happen.
It is recommended that you keep furniture and soft furnishings at least 3 feet from the centre of fire places. This significantly reduces the likelihood of a fire starting from a burning ember that could quickly spread through your entire house.
Use fireproof materials around the fire
The space immediately surrounding your fireplace should be furnished with flame resistant materials only. Tile, slate and concrete are all fantastic materials for a hearth and allow burning embers to safely fall onto them without the risk of catching fire.
Don’t be tempted to add rugs or carpet to this area, even if made from natural fibres which although cope better with the heat than synthetic fibres, still run the risk of catching fire.
Use a fire screen
In addition to stopping sparks falling out of the fire, a fire screen is a useful method of preventing children and pets from getting too close. Fire screens can be purchased in a huge range of styles and designs – from classic chic in brushed steel or glass, to vintage charm in wrought iron or brass plated.
Teach your children how to stay safe
The best way to teach your children how to stay safe around fires is by leading by example. This means allowing your children to see you being careful when lighting and tending to candles and fires.
Fire is one of the most common causes of accidental death and injury amongst children. Talking to your children about the dangers of fire is essential, this advice includes:
- To tell an adult if they see matches or lighters lying around
- Never play with matches, lighters or candles
- Never leave toys close to an open fire
- Not to put things on top of a fire place
- Explain that if they go too close, they will get burnt!