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All the latest security news and information, plus insights and updates from IDS Security Systems Ltd.

how to prevent house fires at christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year when the family gets together, but unfortunately, it's also a time where we see an increased risk of fires in the home. With Christmas lights hung from the tree, a cosy fire in the hearth and a Christmas dinner cooking in the kitchen, there are a lot of opportunities for an accidental fire to start... especially if you've had a few drinks! Here are some harrowing statistics from the National Accident Helpline that put things into perspective:

  • More than 500,000 people have had a fire-related accident in the home
  • Roughly 1,000 people are injured by their Christmas tree every year
  • Christmas tree lights injure nearly 350 people annually
  • 50% of fire-related deaths occur over Christmas
  • 16.7% of fire deaths in 2010 occurred in December
  • 26 people died between 1997 and 2010 in the UK of electrocution while watering their Christmas tree with the lights on

As you can see, there is a real risk of house fires during the Christmas period, so it's important that you take precautions to keep your family safe. Here are a few things you can do to prevent a house fire in your home this Christmas.

1. Switch unattended Christmas lights off

2. Don't use Christmas lights with frayed or damaged cables

3. Move candles away from the Christmas tree, presents, wrapping paper & soft furnishings

4. Keep an eye on children, especially if they're near the fire, candles or the Christmas tree

5. Never hang decorations off lights, radiators or other heat sources

6. Don't be tempted to overload electrical sockets

7. Check that the cooker is switched off after you cook your Christmas dinner

 

Most importantly, ensure your fire alarm is working!

If there's one thing you take away from this blog, we implore you to check that your fire alarm is working this Christmas period. Your fire alarm should be checked year-round to ensure it's operating properly, otherwise, you could find yourself in a sticky situation if a fire occurred.

If you don't already have a fire alarm system in your home, we can help you. We build, install and maintain fire alarm systems in both residential and commercial properties. Find out more about our fire alarms below.

Fire Alarms from IDS Security >

Read More: Fire Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to keep your employees safe. Part of that responsibility includes conducting fire drills. Being proactive about fire safety in the workplace is not just an activity that we recommend you do, it's required by law. If you take a look at the fire safety regulations outlined by the UK government, they state that you must have appropriate fire detection and warning equipment on site. In addition, you should have fire fighting equipment that staff members know how to use, and it should be tested and maintained regularly. 

 

What fire checks should I do?

  • Ensure that all of your fire alarm systems are working. This includes fire detection and alarm equipment.
  • Check that emergency lights that guide employees to the fire exists are working.
  • Make a note of any faults you find and have them fixed as soon as possible.
  • Ensure that all fire escapes are free from obstruction and easily accessible.
  • Check that all automatic fire doors close correctly.
  • Make sure there are fire exit signs in all the relevant places.

 

How often should we do a fire drill?

The government recommends that all businesses carry out at least one fire drill per year. Once completed, a record should be made to show that everyone in the business at that time took part in the drill. If a fire did occur and there was no record to show that you'd provided the necessary training, you could be held legally accountable for injuries that occur as a result of the fire.

 

What if we have a high turnover?

When new staff members join your business, they have no idea what your fire safety plan is, it's your responsibility to make sure that they can access it right away. This could include keeping maps, signs and instructions pinned up in a number of places around the workplace. If you have a period where a lot of new people join the business, you may want to conduct an additional fire drill to make sure everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire. The inconvenience of doing a fire drill is nothing in comparison to the guilt you'd feel if one of your staff members was unsure what to do during a fire.

 

Which places need to do fire drills more often?

There are some places, like schools, nurseries and care homes, where fire drills should be conducted multiple times a year. This helps the young and vulnerable to learn the processes and gives the staff an opportunity to highlight potential problems that could arise in a real-life situation. It's also important that if you take on members of staff with additional needs, for example, wheelchair users, that you adjust your fire drills and procedures accordingly.

 

How can IDS Security help me?

Here at IDS Security, we have years of experience helping all kinds of businesses make their premises fire safe. We offer a wide range of fire detection and alarm systems and we can even advise on the best equipment for you! We know that lots of business owners have a hard time assessing their own premises highlighting the most vulnerable places and deciding where to install sensors. We can help with all of that. All you have to do is get in touch!

Our Fire Alarm Systems >

Read More: Your COVID-19 Fire Safety Questions Answered

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your business is kept safe and secure by following all of the required laws and regulations. 

Now, we understand that this is not an easy thing to do. With so much legal stuff to keep on top of, ensuring everything you do is 'by the book' can be a struggle, especially when it comes to health and safety and the various laws that come with it.

One of the most important areas in health and safety that can't be overlooked, however, is fire safety. Negligence here can lead to some very serious problems such as property damage and even death. So, it's extremely important that as a business owner, you ensure that your fire alarms and fire safety measures are up to scratch.

To make things a little easier for you, IDS Security Systems is here to guide you through the requirements of your business fire alarm!

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your covid-19 fire safety questions answered

COVID-19 has completely changed the way that a lot of us work. Consequently, there have been a lot of changes to fire safety guidance and procedures too. We know you have a lot of questions about what you can and cannot do in relation to fire safety - well, today we're going to answer as many as we can!

The person responsible for fire safety in my workplace is self-isolating. What should I do?

No one can predict if and when members of the team will have to self isolate, your NHS Track and Trace app could alert you at any time. That's why it's important that people with responsibilities such as fire safety ensure that there are trained staff members who know the fire safety procedures so an incident can be managed effectively. 

There should be a premises fire risk assessment that's made available to all members of staff on-site so that everyone understands how to react to an escalating fire safety situation.

Can firefighters carry out a risk assessment of my premises for me?

No, the emergency services shouldn't be contacted unless the situation at hand poses a significant risk to life. A responsible person should be able to carry out a fire risk assessment for you. If you're unsure whether you need to update your fire alarm systems, we can offer a FREE security survey to help you out!

Can fire and rescue teams still respond to 999 calls as usual?

In line with the Government guidance, most fire and rescue services are doing their best to limit non-essential contact. That's why it's important that we all try to limit the number of false fire alarm alerts!

Read More: Preventing False Fire Alarms

Firefighters will still attend 999 calls if the risk is deemed severe enough to warrant a call-out. High-priority cases will be dealt with first. Head to your local fire and rescue website for more information on their current procedures.

emergency exit

Can fire exits be locked if there are fewer people on the premises?

As a general rule of thumb, no fire exits should be locked or blocked regardless of the number of people inside. There always needs to be a suitable number of fire exits available to occupants at all times, including signage and emergency lighting. Refer to your fire safety risk assessment as a guide, and if you're still not sure, speak to the person in charge of fire safety on your premises. 

Can fire doors be wedged open to limit the contact with door handles?

No, fire doors should never be propped open because this makes them ineffective in the event of a fire. Fire doors keep you safe by preventing a fire from spreading from one area of your premises to another. They can only do this if they're closed!

If you're concerned about people touching the fire door handles on a regular basis, then you should employ other hand hygiene tactics, for example:

  • Add a hand sanitising/hand wash station nearby.
  • Increase the number of times that handles and hard surfaces are disinfected. 
  • Ask employees to take a different route in and out of the building (unless it's an emergency of course!)

Should employees congregate outside if the fire alarm goes off?

Yes, if the fire alarm goes off, it's absolutely vital that all persons inside the building exit quickly and in an orderly fashion. They should congregate at the pre-determined fire assembly point.

What if this conflicts with social distancing?

If you're worried about social distancing at your fire assembly point there are a few things you can do. Firstly, you can choose a different fire assembly point that offers more space. Where this is not possible, you may need to revise instructions and expectations.

One way you could improve safety at the fire assembly point is to make sure that all persons have a face covering on them at all times while they're inside the building. Should a fire alarm occur, they can use their masks to provide some protection, even if social distancing is not 100% possible. 

Keeping your employees/occupants safe should be your number one priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, if you don't have an adequate fire safety system in place, get in touch with the IDS team today!

Our Fire Alarm Systems >

Read More: Fire Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

fire safety during the COVID-19 pandemic

We're still feeling the effects of COVID-19 a year on, which means many of us have made significant changes to our home and working environments. With these changes in place, it's possible that you'll need to review your fire safety protocols to make sure that your employees and your family are kept safe at all times. 

Fire safety in your home

While COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are ongoing, spending an unprecedented amount of time in your house has become the new norm. Most house fires start in the kitchen, so while you might usually have your breakfast on the go and your lunch in the office cafeteria, now, you're making more of your meals at home. 

We all like to think that we remember to turn the hob off after every use, but with children home from school and the added stress of at-home zoom calls, it's easy to walk away from your oven and forget. This is where a simple snack can turn into a serious incident real fast!

Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your home is protected against fires during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Ensure that all of your fire alarms are in working order.
  • Check that you have something to put out a fire should one occur, eg. a suitable fire extinguisher.
  • Identify new risks & put plans in place to reduce the risk.
  • Ensure that vulnerable or sick people understand what to do in the event of a fire.
  • Make sure that escape routes are accessible (does your new home office have a fire escape?)

Fire safety in commercial properties

Commercial properties have really had to adapt to continue functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and with so many changes being made in the workplace, it's vital that fire safety procedures are reviewed and updated too.

Fire doors

We know that some premises have been propping open doors so that people walking through the building don't have to touch as many door handles. While this might seem like a perfectly acceptable idea, propping open your fire doors is incredibly dangerous.

Fire doors are designed to stop fires from spreading from one area of your building to another. Wherever possible, keep your self-closing fire doors shut.

Empty buildings

Lots of business owners have taken steps to close their premises for the time being. Whether your staff are working from home or your business has been deemed non-essential, there are a lot more empty buildings than usual. 

With fewer people on-site, it's unlikely that a fire will occur, but if a fire does start it has a much better chance of spreading before someone can be there to stop it. For this reason, it's important that you have a fire safety system in place before you leave your premises empty.

Our Fire Safety Systems

Here at IDS Security, we can design, install and maintain a fire safety system in your home or commercial premises that will keep you safe through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. 

Our team of installers has been installing fire safety systems for over 20 years, so we can provide sound advice and expertise. We also offer round-the-clock monitoring so that you have one less stress on your mind during these worrying times. 

Our Fire Alarm Systems >

To find out more about our fire safety systems, or to find out more about what we can do for you during the COVID-19 pandemic, give us a call on 029 20 753 251.

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