We have all become accustomed to working from home while trying to adapt to Covid-19 and its impact. We have settled into new routines and finding different ways of working i.e. Virtual meetings using video conferencing. However, in all seriousness, there is one thing that we should not overlook – fire safety. In fact, it should be taken just as seriously as if we were in the office and we should become even more vigilant and anticipate any risks while at home.
A Lockdown Safety Guide to Working from Home
If your home “office” consists only of you and your laptop, it’s now your place of work and you are suddenly responsible for fire safety. In this article, we share some straightforward hints and tips that should help you to eliminate any obvious fire risk around the home and ensure that you are able to safely escape in the unfortunate event of a fire.
Fit a Smoke Alarm
Every year the fire and rescue service is called to over 600,000 fires which result in over 800 deaths and over 17,000 injuries, therefore each floor of your home should have at least one working smoke alarm. The number of smoke alarms to fit in your home depends on your particular circumstances as fires can start anywhere, so the more that are fitted, the higher the level of protection. You should test each smoke alarm weekly and follow the social media #TestItTuesday campaign. It was developed by fire and rescue services throughout the UK in an attempt to raise awareness of the importance of smoke alarm testing and remind business and homeowners to test theirs weekly. Follow the hashtag #PressToTest or #TestItTuesday for your weekly reminder to push the button.
Conduct a Fire Risk Assessment
It does seem strange but perform a fire risk assessment around the home, paying particular attention to the new office or working area. This will allow you to identify and evaluate any risk and implement measures to mitigate that risk and remember while you work from home. The assessment should include: –
- electrical appliances and cooking equipment should be checked as you are constantly using them.
- stationery, books and other combustible materials can feed a fire, so check for ignition sources and if needed re-organise a room so that items aren’t near plug sockets or other sources.
- don’t overload wall sockets.
- don’t block doorways or walkways and don’t lock doors which could prevent a quick exit.
- uncoil any extension leads fully, as coiled electric wires build up heat, and don’t let cables trail across floors and walkways causing a trip hazard.
- switch off all your charging plugs when not being used, so they don’t overheat.
- closing doors at night, especially around the high-risk areas, like the kitchen, can help delay the spread of fire.
- consider the means of escape if a fire breaks out so devise an evacuation plan and make sure all the family are aware of it.
The most common cause of a house fire in the UK is cooking appliances so it is recommended that every home should have a small, general-purpose fire extinguisher that’s suitable for the most likely fire risks and it is also sensible to have a fire blanket (click here for info on how to use a fire blanket) available should a fire break out.
Tips for creating an Escape Plan at home
Firstly, if it’s accessible, the best route of escape is the usual entrance and exit point of your home, however, your escape plan should always consider a second route just in case the first is blocked:
- Consider a room that has a window and ideally a phone, one that everyone could attempt to take cover.
- Ensure escape routes and doors are always kept free of obstruction
- Window and door keys should be left in a safe and easy-to-find place
- Everyone in the home should know what to do in the event of a fire. It’s worth practising the escape plan regularly.
- Make sure children know your address in case they have to phone for help.
A Lockdown Safety Guide to Working from Home – Families and businesses are currently finding ways of navigating through these unchartered waters and doing the best they can to get through. However, it’s vital that fire safety precautions and measures are still observed – more so now that we are occupying our homes for 24 hours a day.
Until next time… stay safe.