Do you often turn on your fryer after a night out? Do you charge your mobile while you sleep? Do you ever forget to clean the filter on your washer/dryer? It is because of things like this that student accommodation is at a relatively high risk of fire, with sometimes fatal consequences. Are there any beer crates piled up outside your door? They will block your escape route in the event of a fire. Fortunately, there is a lot that you, and your room mates, can do to improve fire safety!
We understand your faulty phone charger still does the job, but careless use of electrical appliances is one of the main causes of house fires. Fortunately there is a lot you can do to protect yourself. Start today! Here are some tips to get started.
Tip 1: Only use the charger that came with the product. Non-original chargers can have defects due to the use of incorrect electronic components or construction defects in the adapter.
Tip 2: Even original chargers can overheat. Make sure the heat can always escape and use the charger on a non-combustible surface, i.e. not under your mattress or pillow! By using your charger in a non-combustible environment you will limit any fire development to a minimum.
Tip 3: Connect electrical appliances wisely. Appliances that use a lot of power such as electric fryers or heaters should be plugged in directly to a socket instead of a power strip.
Tip 4: Clean the filter on your extractor hood. Clean or replace the grease filter in the extractor hood at least once every three months. The grease in the filter can catch on fire if you use it a lot or there is a pan fire.
Smoke inhalation is the main cause of death for fire victims. When you are sleeping, you can’t smell anything because your nose doesn’t work. So if your dryer causes a fire due to a short circuit, the smell of burning won’t wake you up. The toxic gases in smoke can rapidly cause loss of consciousness, sometimes within minutes. So smoke detectors really do save lives! And not only when you are sleeping. The quicker you realise there is a fire in your house, the sooner you can get out. Has yours been fitted?
Most importantly: never use water to extinguish the fire! And don’t pick up the pan either. Because the water immediately starts boiling when it comes in contact with the hot oil, a cloud of steam will develop in the oil. This cloud will spread a mist of fine oil parts in the air, creating an extremely flammable mixture. So don’t! You extinguish a pan fire using the lid of the pan. More tips for safe cooking:
Both the landlord as well as the tenants are responsible for fire safety in the house. The landlord has to make sure the house is fireproof when it’s ‘bare’. This means that there have to be smoke detectors in common areas, in every housing unit, on the landings and in stairwells, there must be (checked) fire extinguishing materials on every floor and in communal areas and there are certain construction requirements that the house must meet. People should be able to open the doors on the escape route quickly and easily. You can use keys, but these are often lost in panic situations. It’s better to use locks with fixed knobs or panic locks. Walk through your house to check if your landlord is meeting all the requirements and if not, let him know! You, the student, are responsible for taking care of the house. Are the escape routes clear, are the fire doors shut and the fire extinguishers accessible?