Burning issues with Broxtowe’s Fire Safety Advocate Michelle Fitzpatrick

WELCOME to the latest edition of our monthly column with fire safety advocate Michelle Fitzpatrick.

Each month Michelle will be talking to you through the Advertiser about her fire safety tips to keep you safe.

Whenever we hear about a fire occurring in someone’s home there is always one key question we ask – did the house have working smoke alarms?

The message that every home should have working smoke alarms and that they should be tested regularly seems like such a simple one, and one that every householder should find easy to follow.

Smoke alarms are such cheap, simple and easy-to-install pieces of kit, but their importance in giving an early warning in the event of a fire cannot be underestimated – the fact is that smoke alarms do save lives.

Statistics show you’re twice as likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a smoke alarm but it’s not enough just to hope it works.

Tragically 90 people in the UK die each year because the battery in their smoke alarm was flat or missing, so it’s vitally important you check your alarm weekly. Never be tempted to take the battery out of the alarm to put in another electrical device and try to ensure you have spare batteries in the house.

If you, or someone else in your house, smoke, you are 40 per cent more likely to suffer a fire than a non-smoking household.

Many people underestimate the damage a discarded cigarette can cause but fires started by cigarettes kill more people than any other kind – accounting for a third of all accidental fatal fires in the home.

The more alarms you have, the safer you’ll be but a minimum should be one on each floor.

If you do only have one alarm, put it somewhere you’ll be able to hear it when you’re asleep and fit smoke alarms to any bedrooms that contain a TV or other large electrical appliance, such as a computer.

In addition to installing smoke alarms there are other steps you can take to make sure you keep yourself and your family safe in the event of fire.

Practice a night-time routine, in which you ensure all electrical items are switched off at the plug, candles and cigarettes are extinguished properly and internal doors are closed to prevent the spread of fire if one should occur.

Make sure you have your house keys to hand, so that you know you can get out quickly in an emergency. You should also make an escape plan – ensuring exit routes are kept free - and make sure every member of the family is aware of it.

These days smoke alarms come in many forms and to suit any pocket. There are even alarms specially designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, which are fitted with a strobe light and vibrating pad to place under pillows.

If you need more information or advice about smoke alarms or any other aspect of fire safety, contact your local fire station or visit www.notts-fire.gov.uk or www.firekills.gov.uk . And remember, a smoke alarm is the single piece of equipment most likely to save you from a fire as it gives you time to get out alive.