Every year, the Belgian fire brigade extinguishes around 10,000 fires in companies and family homes. More than a third of these fires start in the kitchen or living room. The causes vary from short circuits to – we’re not kidding – explosive smartphones. Are you sure your home and workplace are as fire safe as can be? These tips can save lives!
The 5 most common causes of fire
Most fires are caused by defective devices or by people who are insufficiently aware of fire hazards.
1. Defective electrical devices
As you may have heard on the news, many house fires are caused by tumble dryers. In fact, the drying cabinet is the least reliable electrical device in the home – although you can considerably reduce the risk of fire by cleaning the filter after each use.
Evidently, tumble dryers are not the only electrical devices that may cause a fire. Did you know … even your smartphone can catch fire? Laptop chargers and batteries, too, can overheat and even explode.
2. "One more cigarette, and then I'm going to sleep"
Nearly one in four Belgians smokes. Some of them have the habit of smoking in front of the TV in the evenings or in bed, risking some very dire consequences.
Did you know that oil and fat can spontaneously catch fire when they overheat? Forgotten fryers and frying pans are the most common cause of kitchen fires. Firemen call this type of fire a boilover.
4. Getting cosy with some candles
A romantic dinner at home, watching TV with the whole family ... There are plenty of occasions to light some candles in the evening. Unfortunately, many people leave candles unattended from time to time, often near curtains and in the presence of children or animals.
Extra tip! fifthplay and Essent’s flix-packs are a safe alternative to candles, and just as romantic.
5. Children playing with fire
Speaking of children … Many housefires are caused by children experimenting with lighters and matches.
4 tips to improve fire safety
Reducing the risk of fire at home and in the workplace is mainly a matter of good habits and taking precautions.
1. Pull the plug!
What applies to burning candles also includes electrical appliances: never leave them unattended, not even in standby mode. When the working day is over, shut down your laptop completely and unplug it. Also, never leave your washing machine or dryer running at night, and only charge your smartphone when you're awake.
2. Invest in smart home technology
Do you often feel like you forgot to turn off a device at home or at work? That’s what smart home solutions are for! Thanks to smart plugs and a fifthplay gateway, you can use an app to instantly check which of your devices are still turned on. And the best thing of all? The app enables you to remotely turn off devices using your smartphone.
3. Keep a fire blanket in your kitchen
A frying pan catches fire and you, in a panic, try to extinguish the fire with water ... Not a good idea. Pouring water on burning oil only feeds the fire. Therefore, you should always cover a burning pan with a lid, a damp mop or – even better – a fire blanket which you store near the stove.
4. Smoke detectors are not a luxury
More than half of Belgian homes are not equipped with smoke detectors, even though it’s mandatory in many cases. Smoke and toxic gases, after all, are the leading cause of death in house fires. While most people smell smoke almost instantly when they’re awake, this is certainly not the case when they’re fast asleep. In other words, installing smoke detectors is a must.
Extra tip: preventive smart home packages such as fifthplay cube or KBC SmartHome enable you to always keep an eye on your home – even when you're not there. In the event of smoke, smart smoke detectors send you a text message so that you can immediately warn the fire department.