Fire safety in the kitchen

With around 62% of all home fires starting in the kitchen we should ask if we give this area of home safety as much thought as we ought to. Given that 50% of these fires are caused by cooking appliances, this question is paramount whether you are a landlord or a home owner.

A new fire safety in the kitchen handbook has been developed, which will give landlords an overview of their obligations in accordance with the current regulations and ways in which you as the landlord can meet these obligations. You will not only be ensuring that you are protecting your tenants, you will be avoiding a heavy fine or indeed a potential custodial sentence.

As well as addressing the requirements landlords need to adhere to, this handbook looks at potential issue home owners may face and gives advice on how to reduce the risk of a fire happening in their home

To find out more, take a look at this comprehensive fire safety in the kitchen guide.

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Angie Dewick-Eisele

H&S, HR & Marketing Manager

Angie has been our marketing manager since joining in 2002. She also has a keen interest in H&S issues.

Fire prevention and fire fighting on wind farms

Wind Turbine FireResearch undertaken by Imperial College London in conjunction with Edinburgh University and the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden in 2014 found that fire is the second largest cause of incidents in wind turbines after blade failure. Considering the vast costs for constructing wind turbines, this statistic offers enough justification to consider specific fire prevention, detection and fighting questions.

Fires in wind turbines can start when flammable materials such as hydraulic oil and other flammable materials are in proximity to hot machinery or electrical equipment. Oils can catch fire if the gearbox or generator overheat, and high winds can potentially fan the flames. Lightening strikes can also spark a fire. Once started, the fire is unlikely to be brought under control due to the height of the turbines and the location of wind farms, which are normally a significant distance from the nearest fire services.

Fire precautions

Measures can be put in place to protect against lightning strikes. Fire-resistant hydraulic fluids and lubricant oils reduce the likelihood of a fire and the latest wind turbine designs incorporate heat barriers to protect materials that can burn. It is also recommended that manufacturers use non-combustible insulating materials. Intumescent materials (materials that expand if exposed to fire and therefore choke the fire) can help to suppress fires at an early stage. Systems can be installed to continuously monitor the condition of machinery so that maintenance and engineering work can be undertaken in a timely manner and the system can be shut down before a fire develops.

Should a fire break out there are fire detection systems that can be employed in conjunction with fire suppression systems and an automated shut-off. If a fire were to break out whilst an engineer was working within the nacelle (the outer casing at the top of a turbine) a fire detector would also give an early warning.

Fire suppression systems that are triggered by rises in temperature or by fire detectors are fitted in some turbines. Gas suppression systems work best in airtight environments. However if the ignition source has not been eliminated the fire may reignite once the gas has dispersed. Systems that are able to extinguish flames with water, foam or powder have the disadvantage that they might damage equipment. Automated suppression systems might also have to be disabled while engineer work in the nacelle to prevent suffocation, inhalation or, in the case of powder, obfuscation (a powder discharge in a small room can blind the operator).

Precautions for maintenance workers

For the periods of maintenance work a portable fire extinguisher should be provided. However, in the document Workshop Report: Escape from the nacelle in the event of a fire, produced by the G9 Offshore Wind Health & Safety Association it states that ‘a fire extinguisher should be considered as an aid to escape rather than a primary means of fire control/suppression.’

Safelincs spoke with representatives of one of its customers, energy company Vattenfall, regarding the siting of fire extinguishers. The company has turbines from a number of manufacturers. In some cases the portable extinguishers are situated as a permanent fixture within the nacelle. In other cases the engineer will carry an extinguisher with him as part of his tool kit.

Recommendation from Safelincs

1) For permanently installed portable extinguishers:

The downside of standard fire extinguishers is that they require an annual service carried out by a qualified extinguisher engineer and a refill needs to be undertaken for most extinguishers after five years with the unit replaced after ten years. Since a visit to turbines by an external extinguisher engineer is usually hard to achieve, a service-free fire extinguisher is a better solution.

Safelincs can offer a range of service-free foam extinguishers in 2 ltr and 6 ltr sizes. These fire extinguishers are manufactured in the UK from non-corrosive materials and feature duplicate pressure gauges. They only require an annual visual check by any member of staff, e.g. the turbine maintenance engineer. They also do not require a refill after five years. Instead, after ten years they can be refilled and used for a further ten years.

The resistance to a corrosive maritime environment makes these extinguishers particularly well suited to the wind farm industry.

2) For extinguishers carried by the maintenance engineer:

The extinguisher in this case must be light, broad spectrum, safe for use on electricity, non-damaging to equipment and harmless in the case of inhalation. There must also be no risk of asphyxiation.

Safelincs can offer a range of portable water mist extinguishers, which can be used on grease, oils, electric equipment (up to 1000 Volt), fabric and plastics. The extinguishers create a very fine mist of de-ionised water that cannot conduct electricity. The inhalation of the water mist is not harmful and the mist does not leave a deposit.

For further information, please email support@safelincs.co.uk or ring us on 0800 612 6537

Outdoor Fire Safety

As summer finally seems to be upon us, Fire Kills, the Government department dedicated to improving fire safety, has made ‘Outdoor Fire Safety’ the theme for June. As an official Fire Kills sponsor, Safelincs is helping to spread the message.

barbecueBarbecues

Safety initiatives over the years have meant that actual fires caused by barbecues are uncommon. However, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), almost 2,000 people attend A&E units each year having had an accident involving a barbecue. Some of the accidents lead to very serious burns, usually as a result of using an accelerant such as petrol to light the fuel. The number of accidents usually increases if we have a hot summer.

Messages from Fire Kills that the fire service are being asked to communicate to the public include:
• Don’t drink too much alcohol if in charge of the barbecue (or any cooking!).
• Make sure the barbecue is well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste.
• Never leave a barbecue or any cooking unattended.
• Never use a barbecue indoors; fumes from barbecues include the deadly gas carbon monoxide
• Keep a bucket of water, sand or the garden hose nearby for emergencies.
• Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues.
• Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive a barbecue; use only recognised lighters or starter fuels on coal.
• Empty ashes onto bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins. If they’re hot, they can melt the plastic and start a fire.

Camping

A few basic precautions are advised that will reduce the risk of fires starting and spreading:
• Never use candles in or near a tent – torches are safer.
• Don’t smoke inside a tent.
• Place the cooking area well away from the tent and clear of anything that could catch fire easily such as long, dry grass
• Set up tents at least six metres apart and away from parked cars.
• Keep cooking area clear of items that catch fire easily, including long, dry grass and in a place where they can’t easily be knocked over.
• Keep matches, lighters, flammable liquids and gas cylinders out of the reach of children.
• Have an escape plan and be prepared to cut your way out of your tent if there is a fire.

IT SHOULD BE PARTICULARLY STRESSED THAT BARBECUES SHOULD NEVER BE BROUGHT INSIDE A TENT. THEY EMIT DEADLY CARBON DIOXIDE FUMES (EVEN MORE WHEN THEY ARE COOLING DOWN). FATALITIES HAVE OCCURRED IN THE PAST.

Boat Safety

Fire safety on inland and coastal boats and pleasure crafts is also an issue. Fires can spread quickly on a boat, even on water. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and detectors should be installed as a matter of course. Additional messages when living on board include:
• Maintaining a boat’s fuel, gas and electrical systems on a regular basis.
• Setting up an emergency plan with everyone on board before setting out.

Caravans

Having working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in a caravan is just as important as having them at home. Additional messages for those staying in caravans include:
• Ensure caravans and tents are at least six metres apart and away from parked cars.
• If smoking, use metal ashtrays – and never smoke in bed.
• Don’t leave children alone inside.
• Don’t block air vents
• Turn off all appliances before leaving the caravan or going to bed.
• Never use a cooker or heater whilst the caravan is moving.

The Countryside

Every year, fire destroys thousands of acres of countryside and wildlife habitats. Some fires are started deliberately, but most are due to carelessness. Dry ground in the summer means there’s an added risk of a fire starting. A few simple precautions will help reduce incidents.
• Extinguish cigarettes properly and never throw cigarette ends out of car windows.
• Avoid using open fires in the countryside.
• Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodland – sunlight shining through glass can start fires
• Only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended.
• If a fire is spotted in the countryside, report it to the fire and rescue service immediately.
• Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.

Safelincs wishes its customers a happy and safe summer!

Staying safe in later life

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As more of us are living alone as we get older, we need to ensure that, as we retain our independence, we also remain safe.
The 2011 census found that 9.2 million (16 per cent) of people, normally residing in England and Wales, were aged 65 and over, an increase of almost one million from the previous census in 2001. Of those, around 31 per cent were living alone.

As we grow older we want to maintain our independence for as long as possible, but it has to be taken into account that some of us will not be as alert as were when we were younger. The early onset of dementia is not always detected and can manifest itself in carelessness around the home. In addition, older people are often released from hospital earlier than they would have in the past and not always with sufficient carers to look after their safety and well-being.

Protection from fire

Accidental fires are a major concern for those living alone and, on average, two people over 65 a week in Great Britain are dying in house fires. Concerned relatives will want to take precautions to ensure that every step is taken to safeguard their loved ones.

The most obvious action is to ensure that adequate smoke alarms are installed in a property – a minimum of one on every floor. There is a range of mains and battery powered devices available; of particular interest are radio-interlinked smoke alarms, which are connected through radio frequency signals to ensure the fire alarm is raised throughout the residence. This is particularly important if high risk rooms, such as kitchens, are a distance away from bedrooms.

Hearing disabilities mean that up to one in seven people may not be woken up by a conventional smoke alarm system. Smoke alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing use high-intensity strobe lights and vibration pads, which are placed under the pillow at night.

Smoke alarms should be tested regularly, but for some of us this may be difficult if it involves being perched precariously on a chair! A friend or relative performing this task is the most sensible course of action. However, if an Ei radio-interlinked or hard-wired smoke alarm system is installed this can be tested remotely using a test switch that is either wireless or wired into the mains powered smoke alarm system in a convenient location. Turning on the “Test” switch will activate all interconnected smoke and heat alarms – equivalent to pressing the test button on an alarm.

Fire prevention in the kitchen

The kitchen is potentially the most calamitous area in the house with cooking appliances (mainly cookers and ovens) being the main source of ignition for more than half of all accidental dwelling fires, according to the most recent set of fire statistics for Great Britain.
Whilst a helpful fire prevention tool for all of us, stove alarms are particularly useful for those of us who may become distracted whilst cooking. A relatively recent innovation, these devices react and sound a warning when a cooker becomes too hot.

Specially designed for installation above a cooker, the Innohome Stove Alarm SA101 is simple to install. It attaches to the cooker hood using integrated magnets, however, it can also be fitted to the wall using screws. As they are battery operated there is no need for cables or an external power source. A loud 90dB alarm is activated if the cooker becomes too hot or when an empty hotplate is left on, warning of a hazardous situation before toxic gases are produced or a fire starts. The device includes a heat sensor that detects the temperature and the rate of increase in temperature. It intelligently learns from and adjusts its sensitivity to the users’ cooking pattern. The alarm does not react to fumes from cooking fat or steam. The SA101 is compatible with gas, electrical and dual-fuel cookers.

A even more sophisticated device, but compatible only with electric cookers, is the Innohome Stove Guard SGK 500. This is also attached to the cooker hood or wall. The intelligent heat sensor assesses the temperature of the cooker top and its rate of rise and identifies when a hazardous situation occurs. On detection of a hazard, the heat sensor wirelessly communicates with a control unit, which in turn cuts off the electricity supply to the cooker. The control unit also enables connection to social alarm systems such as Telecare.

Carbon Monoxide

Special attention needs to be paid to regularly servicing heating appliances and ensuring chimneys are swept. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced if there is not enough oxygen during the combustion process. It is commonly produced in appliances fuelled by LPG, natural gas, oil, petrol, wood or coal that have been badly fitted, are damaged, badly repaired or poorly maintained. CO is odourless, colourless and tasteless – the most dangerous common airborne poisoning in the world. Around 50 people a year die from CO poisoning in the UK, although some experts believe that this figure may be far higher because the symptoms are not easy to detect, with deaths often being attributed to old age.

All homes should be protected by carbon monoxide alarms. Battery models can be bought for less that fifteen pounds and some models have longlife, sealed-in ten year batteries that provide long-term peace of mind. Mains powered models can be wired into the electric circuit or plugged into a wall socket.

LPG and Natural Gas

Natural gas and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) are used for heating, cooking or heating water. As we are getting older, we are becoming more likely to forget to switch off a gas appliance or to light it in the first place. If, however, a gas cooker is left on without being lit, an explosion could eventually occur. Devices for detecting such escaping LPG or natural gas in domestic properties are available and warn us of such an occurrence. The AMS S/200P gas alarm is simply plugged into a socket and delivers a visual (LED) and audible warning upon detection of flammable gases. It also features relay outputs for interconnection to external devices.

Safety checks

If you are caring for an elderly friend or relative it is advisable to do a quick safety check around the property. Are the escape routes uncluttered and easy to navigate? Are plug sockets overloaded? Some of us have a tendency to hold on to treasured electrical items such as old radios. These may well be far more sturdy and reliable than those on the market today, but how safe is the wiring?

How safe is the furniture? Items that have been bought many years ago will probably not meet the latest fire ratings. Impregnation sprays are available to protect soft furnishing, bedding and curtains as well as decorations against catching fire (useful on Christmas trees and decorations as well as soft furnishings). They come in three versions: ‘standard’ for treatment of decorations, real Christmas trees, paper etc., ‘washable’ (can be machine washed) for treatment of bedding, curtains etc. and ‘special’ for treatment of artificial flowers, plastic decorations etc.

Finally, is it a good idea to install a fire extinguisher, in case all the precautions fail? Fire services have traditionally preached that people should get out of the house straight away if a fire breaks out. However, a survey carried out by the FIA found that over a twelve month period over 1,600 injuries were prevented and 24 lives saved by the use of fire extinguishers. The general interpretation of the statistics was that an extinguisher (irrespective of size) will put out a small fire. Once it becomes too big it becomes difficult to tackle with any number of extinguishers and the building should be evacuated.

If a fire extinguisher is to be installed, the latest water mist appliance is the most versatile for the home. It works by dispersing microscopic ‘dry’ water mist particles to suppress fires and extinguish burning materials very rapidly. It can be used on just about every type of domestic fire, including deep fat fires, and can be safely operated on live electrical appliances, as it only contains de-ionised water which is unable to carry electrical current. There are no chemicals involved, so if it is discharged in a cooking area there is no danger of contaminated food.

If you have any specialist questions, please contact Safelincs on 0800 612 6537 and our friendly staff will be happy to help.

Do your children know what to do in the event of a fire?

Child Accident Prevention TrustSafelincs is engaging with Child Safety Week- an annual initiative promoted by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT). This year’s event runs from 1st of June 2015 and is intended to raise awareness of general safety issues relating to children.

The organisers, CAPT, praise the event as a time when “an incredible range of professions and organisations, as well as families, carers and the media all do their bit to keep children safe from the pain of serious accidents.” They also proudly report that three quarters of parents engaging with Child Safety Week believe they have learnt something new, or plan to do something differently as a result of awareness gained from the campaign.

Safelincs’ field of expertise is fire safety. As such we would pose the question- do your children know what to do in the event of a fire? Nobody expects to be caught in a fire, and complacency can easily set in. If you have discussed fire safety with your children in the past, would they still remember that conversation in the event of an emergency?

You should always ensure your children recognise the sound of your smoke alarms, and that you have a family evacuation plan in place. Identify the safest route to escape from your property, and then consider what you would do if this route was blocked. Identifying a secondary escape route is incredibly important as fire is unpredictable.

Practice makes perfect, so once you have a plan run through it until you are sure everyone knows what to do. Also make sure to practice evacuation at night as well as during the day- fire can strike at any time.

Perhaps most importantly, test your smoke alarms. If your smoke alarms fail to sound in the event of a fire, all of your preparation has been in vain. Most fire related deaths are caused by smoke inhalation rather than exposure to flames, with children being especially vulnerable. Raising the alarm quickly is absolutely vital. Make sure yours are working with regular tests.

We hope you will take our advice on board in the spirit of Child Safety Week. It is all too easy to panic when faced with an emergency. Take just a few minutes this week to familiarise your family with an escape plan.

Safelincs support CAPT; we donate £1 for a range of CO alarms sold.

Dorgard retainers hold open fire doors safely in educational premises

University of London College HallWithin schools, colleges and other education buildings there are always a lot of people moving around, especially at the start of lectures or break times. Often they are laden down with books and files and opening fire doors along the route, from one part of the building to another, can be a big problem. The issue of opening heavy fire doors also impacts on the independent mobility of disabled students.

In situations like this, some people will find a ‘solution’, like wedging a fire door open or using an extinguisher to hold the door open. They may not be aware that this action puts them and everyone else in the building in danger and that it is in fact illegal. Buildings like schools and colleges are compartmentalised to prevent the spread of fire through the building, gaining valuable time to escape. Fire doors are part of this compartmentalisation system and by wedging them open they are rendered inactive and will not be able to offer the protection they were designed for. Wedging fire doors open is therefore a serious a breach of fire safety legislation and could lead to the head of the college, school or university being prosecuted, fined or even imprisoned.

The Dorgard fire door retainer offers here a safe and legal solution. It is a fire door holder that once fitted to the door, will hold it open in any position chosen. It then ‘listens’ for the fire alarm and on hearing it will release the door and allows it to close automatically. It offers free access without compromising fire safety. The installation of a Dorgard takes less than 10 minutes and can be carried out by any DIY person.

Dorgard can offer you a cost effective solution to legally hold your fire doors open too. University of London’s College Hall have already made the switch and are enjoying greater access throughout their building with the peace of mind that safety is still paramount and that their fire doors will close in the event of a fire.

“The Dorgard offers a low energy automatic door solution that proved to be the most cost effective way of improving access and independence for wheelchair users.” University of London’s College Hall

Safelincs helped UK Aid respond to Ebola crisis

World Health Organisation Ebola CrisisIn October and November 2014 Safelincs reacted quickly to requests from the Department for International Aid, to provide safety equipment for shipment to West Africa as part of the UK Aid response to the Ebola crisis.
Defibrillators, powder fire extinguishers, fire bells, mini megaphones and smoke alarms formed two large consignments shipped within days of receiving the requests with special transport directly to Cotswold Airport to meet aircraft for onward transit to Africa, where they were utilised in new health centres built by Britain to save those suffering from this deadly virus. All the items were shipped on fumigated wooden pallets to ensure adherence to export rules.

Harry Dewick-Eisele, managing director, Safelincs commented: “We are pleased that we were able to support the UK response to the situation in West Africa. Our staff pulled out all the stops to ensure that all items, together with the required paperwork were delivered within the very demanding time limit and in compliance with the export regulations.”

The outbreak of the Ebola virus primarily affects three countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Around 21,000 cases and 8,400 deaths have been reported globally by the World Health Organisation. Since the strong commitment by the international community started in earnest, the rate of new infections has reduced significantly but the virus still remains a major threat.

Bonfire Night – stay safe and have fun!

Bonfire NightIt’s that time of year where many of us will be looking forward to the celebrations of Bonfire Night. The tradition of wrapping up warm, toffee apple supper, sparklers, bonfire glow and spectacular firework displays all combine to bring crowds of people together, in awe of the decorative night sky that lies ahead.
Although public, organised events are the safest way to enjoy the festivities, many choose to have an intimate, family get-together and celebrate at home. Whatever you choose to do this Bonfire Night, remember to follow these simple safety guidelines from The Firework Code:
– Only buy fireworks that comply with BS 7114 British Standard
– Don’t drink alcohol if you’re setting off fireworks
– Keep fireworks in a closed box
– Follow the instructions for each firework
– Stand well back
– Never go near a firework that has been lit – if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode
– Never throw fireworks or put them in your pocket
– Always supervise children around fireworks
– Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
– Never give sparklers to children under five years old
– Keep pets indoors
Last year, nearly 1000 injuries were caused by fireworks in October and November, with almost half of that figure being children. Don’t spoil your evening with unnecessary injury – stay safe and have fun!
To celebrate Bonfire Night, Safelincs are running a limited time special offer on selected fire safety and first aid products. Make sure you’re prepared and keep your family safe. Act responsibly and enjoy your evening.

Ageing Safely Week

Ageing Safely WeekThe Chief Fire Officers Association and fire services across the country are supporting Ageing Safely Week which commences at the end of September.

The risk of dying in a fire for those aged 65 and over is more than twice as high as the average risk for all ages. Across the country fire and rescue services identify those who are most at risk in their community and undertake targeted prevention and protection activities. 23% of the UK will be aged 65 and over by 2035, therefore older people will increasingly be the focus of preventative fire safety.

The Ageing Safely Week, which runs from 29th September to 5th October, provides a platform for fire services to run initiatives and events that focus on such aspects of fire safety as getting chimneys swept, the safe use of electrical heaters and cooking safely.

Safelincs have a number of products that are particularly suited to maintaining the safety of senior members of the community. These include radio-interlinked smoke alarms, connected through radio frequency signals, which ensure a fire alarm is heard throughout an entire residence.

Smoke alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing feature high-intensity strobe lights and vibration pads to wake the deaf person during the night if there is a fire alarm. We also have portable deaf alarm systems.

Innohome stove alarms provide reliable fire protection for the area of the home where elderly people are particularly vulnerable. A loud alarm is activated if the cooker becomes too hot or when an empty hotplate is left on, warning of a hazardous situation before toxic gases are produced or a fire starts.

Many homes now have a fire extinguisher and, whilst the fire service advice is to evacuate immediately, most people can prevent a small fire getting out of control. We would recommend a one litre water mist extinguisher which can be used on any type of household fire. This appliance utilises relatively recent technology that smothers a fire using microscopic ‘dry’ water particles. It works even on deep fat fryer fires and is safe to use on electrical fires.

Every home should have a carbon monoxide detector. There is a range of both battery and mains powered products that will give an early warning of the presence of this deadly gas.

In the middle of Ageing Safely Week, UK Older People’s Day takes place and the aim is to create some synergy between the two campaigns. Held on the 1st October, the same day as the International Day of Older Persons, it is a celebration of the achievements and contributions that older people make to our society and the economy. Its objective is to challenge negative attitudes and outdated stereotypes.

Esther Rantzen CBE, founder of The Silver Line helpline, is also supporting the Ageing Safely campaign. “Older people are more at risk from fires in their homes than any other sector of the population. The majority of those over 75 live on their own, and loneliness erodes confidence so seriously that it can lead them to neglect themselves, and put themselves in danger,” she says.

Safelincs becomes approved supplier of Wyndham hotel chain

ramadaWyndham Hotel Group, part of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, the world’s largest hotel and holiday chain has signed up Safelincs as the only approved fire safety supplier for its UK operations.

In the UK, Wyndham includes 740 hotels, 15000 cottages, 900 boats as well as 450 holiday parks. Hotels such as Ramada, Days Inn and Encore are some of the hotels that are included in their portfolio. As part of the deal Safelincs have offered favourable terms for the hotels including special prices for fire extinguisher servicing and fire alarm panel maintenance. Harry Dewick-Eisele, MD of Safelincs Ltd stated: “We are proud to be selected by Wyndham as their central fire safety provider. We will make sure that hotels in this group, many of which are already customers of ours, will receive benefits from this co-operation”.

If you are a hotel owner or Facilities Manager of a hotel, contact Safelincs on 01507 462176 or email support@safelincs.co.uk to discuss your needs.

Safelincs recently launched a new business arm, Henry Wolfe, offering beautiful and bespoken fire safety solutions for boutique hotels and other design focused venues.