Many of us are quite vigilant regarding the obvious fire hazards around the home, but are you aware of some of the more hidden hazards? Here are some sneaky threats that might have been slipping under your radar!
DRYER DANGER Tumble dryers can be the biggest culprits in appliance fires. Dryer fires start when built-up lint near the motor, gas burners or heating elements catches on fire. This fire can then spread to ignite lint in the vent pipe.
CHIMNEY CAUTION Your home’s chimney should be swept at least once a year. This fire safety measure will help remove soot and debris (such as bird nests built during the spring and summer months) which could become a fire hazard. When using the fireplace, keep any flammable materials, such as blankets, curtains and rugs away from the fireplace and never leave children unattended near a working fireplace.
BEWARE SQUARE BATTERIES People know a 9-volt battery and some steel wool is a great fire starter. So batteries shouldn’t be kept loose in a junk drawer, especially 9-volt batteries. It’s possible that the metal in the junk drawer could short out a 9-volt battery and spark a fire. It’s best to keep batteries in the packaging or keep the posts covered with tape. Check with your council on how to best dispose of 9-volt batteries.
MIRROR MAYHEM Fishbowls, jam jars, magnifying make-up & shaving mirrors and glass door knobs have helped cause home fires in the past. If they stand in direct sunlight and if the angle is just right, the rays from the sun can become concentrated enough to begin combustion.
FAKE FAGS With cigarettes already the single biggest cause of fire deaths in the UK, a recent study has revealed that fake cigarettes filtering onto the market pose an even bigger danger.
Since November 2011, every cigarette sold in the EU must meet a reduced ignition propensity (RIP) requirement by having ultra-thin bands of slightly thicker fire-retardant paper at intervals down the length of the cigarette so that, once lit, it will self-extinguish if not actively smoked. This reduces the fire risk from them being left burning in an ashtray, dropped, or from the smoker falling asleep, for example.
What about the increasing numbers of counterfeit cigarettes smuggled into the country as the price of legal brands continue to rise? And it is not just fake cigarettes bought in pubs or on the street which pose a risk. Raids recently conducted by trading standards officers on nine shops in Derbyshire revealed that only one of 18 samples tested features the mandatory RIP bands.
Apart from the obvious fire risk, fake cigarettes also carry huge health risks and are even more toxic than genuine brands, often containing noxious cancer-causing chemicals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, benzene and formaldehyde, sawdust, tobacco beetles and, in some cases, rat droppings.Consumers should therefore check the cigarettes they buy carefully.
For more information on fire prevention visit: www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/fire.htm