Keep your home safe this September

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A Fire Safety Inspecting Officer and a Firefighter checking a fire door

This month, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council’s Home Fire Safety Month campaign.

Over the course of four weeks, from Monday, 30 August until Sunday, 26 September, we will sharing safety advice to help keep you safe in your home or business. Each week will focus on a different area, covering chimney fire safety, business fire safety, fire door safety, and gas safety.

James Whitton, West Hub Protection Manager, said: “Home Fire Safety Month is a timely reminder to make sure you’re safe in your home or business. With the weather beginning to grow colder and COVID-19 restrictions easing, the safety advice we’ll be sharing throughout the month will help make sure you’re prepared and reduce the chance of an incident.”

Chimney Fire Safety Week (30 August - 5 September)

To ensure your chimney is safe and fully functioning throughout the winter months, you can take these steps now to make sure you’re prepared:

  • Ensure your chimney is swept regularly and remind your friends and family to get theirs swept.
  • Keep chimneys, flues and appliances clean and well maintained.
  • Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
  • Use the appropriate fuel for your appliance – some appliances will be suitable for wood only, some are multi-fuel – check your appliance instructions.
  • Never interrupt the air supply by blocking air vents or air bricks.

Chimneys should be swept according to the type of fuel used, the following advice can help prevent chimney damage, and, in the worst cases, household fires:

  • Smokeless fuels – at least once a year.
  • Bituminous coal – at least twice a year.
  • Wood – quarterly when in use.
  • Oil – once a year.
  • Gas – once a year (any work on gas appliances requires a Gas Safe registered installer or engineer).

For more information on chimney fire safety, please visit: rbfrs.co.uk/chimneysafety

NFCC Business Safety Week (6-12 September)

With the ways in which businesses work changing as a result of the changes in COVID-19 control measures, now is the perfect time to make sure that you and your business are following the latest guidance.

  • ·How much rubbish are you generating? Ensure all rubbish is properly disposed of to reduce the risk of arson.
  • ·Are your means of escape suited to the number of people in your building and their needs? Ensure that means of escape are kept clear and are suited to the needs of the people within your building.
  • ·Do you have new members of staff? Make sure that staff are properly trained, including any additional training needs that may have arisen in your Fire Risk Assessment.
  • ·Does your fire warning system and emergency lighting work correctly? Whilst the premises have been closed, have these systems been tested?
  • ·Don’t be tempted to prop open fire doors. Minimising contact with door handles may be at the forefront of people’s minds at the moment, but do not use wedges or extinguishers to hold open fire doors.

For more business safety tips, please visit rbfrs.co.uk/businesssafety

Gas Safety Week (13-19 September)

Making sure your appliances are gas safe will help keep you and your family safe as the weather begins to grow colder. There are a few simple safety measures you can follow to make sure your appliances are gas safe:

  • ·Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit, fix and service your appliances. You can find and check an engineer at GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
  • ·Check both sides of your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. Make sure they are qualified for the work you need doing. You can find this information on the back of the card.
  • ·Have all your gas appliances regularly serviced and safety checked every year. If you rent your home ask for a copy of the landlord’s current Gas Safety Record.
  • ·Know the six signs of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness. Unsafe gas appliances can put you at risk of CO poisoning, gas leaks, fires and explosions.
  • ·Check gas appliances for warning signs that they are not working properly e.g. lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks or stains on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.
  • ·Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm. This will alert you if there is carbon monoxide in your home.

For more gas safety advice, visit: gassaferegister.co.uk/gassafetyweek

Fire Door Safety Week (20-26 September)

Fire doors are an essential part of making sure your building is safe from fire. They ensure that the fire and smoke can be kept contained within a ‘compartment’ for a defined period of time, which allows time for people to escape and to make the fire easier for the firefighters to tackle.

The Five Step Check will help you test whether your fire door is fit-for-purpose – if not, it will need replacing to ensure your building is safe from fire:

  1. Check for proof of certification – without a certification mark, you cannot be sure if a door is really a fire door. Look for a label or plug on top of or to the side of the door.
  2. Look at the size of the gaps - check that the gaps around the top and sides of the door are consistently less than 4mm thick when the door is closed. (You can use a £1 to check this, as it is roughly the correct thickness). The gap under the door can be slightly larger (up to 8mm usually), but this can depend on the door.
  3. Check the condition of the seal – look for the intumescent (heat-expanding) seals around the door or doorframe. These should be intact and have no signs of damage.
  4. Check the hinge fixing – open the door and ensure that all of the three or more hinges are firmly affixed with no missing or broken screws.
  5. Close the door frame properly – the fire door should close firmly onto the latch without sticking on the floor or the frame. Open the door to about halfway, let go and let it close by itself. A fire door will only work if it is fully closed.

For more fire door safety advice, please visit: firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk