LFB warns over lockdown home fire risks
LONDON FIRE Brigade (LFB) issued an ‘urgent’ message for millions working from home during the pandemic warning of the ‘potential for more fires’ in the new situation.
In a press release, LFB stated that its firefighters were ‘issuing urgent’ advice as ‘millions of people enter their first full week of working from home amidst the Coronavirus pandemic’, adding that the ‘majority’ of city office workers ‘have now stopped commuting following Government advice to avoid all but essential travel in a bid to try and contain the spread of Covid-19’.
However, as a result of the ‘increased numbers of people at home during the day’, LFB has warned of the ‘potential for more fires as people adapt their daily routines and others are in isolation’, calling on people to ‘think, take action and avoid becoming a further casualty for the NHS’. It pointed out that firefighters are ‘usually called to a larger number of domestic fires’ between 6pm and 8pm, and ‘there has traditionally been an increase in cooking fires during the weekend’.
This is because ‘people are at home for longer periods of time’, but in 2020 so far it is ‘seeing an increase in weekday fires and fires earlier in the day’, meaning that it wants to warn that ‘common causes of fires in the home such as cooking, smoking, electrical items and heating sources could become even more prevalent as people are spending more time indoors than usual’.
For LFB, cooking fires ‘are a major concern’ because those staying at home ‘are expected to cook more during the day’, and due to schools being shut and children being home, ‘parents could get distracted’, while an increase in smoking related fires – ‘the most common cause of fire deaths’ – is ‘thought to be a possibility as smokers may start smoking inside more as people are continually advised not to go out unnecessarily’.
It urged the public to ‘please speak’ to vulnerable friends and family members who smoke who ‘it may not be possible to visit […] at the moment’, and ‘remind them about the dangers of smoking’; while people who ‘don’t usually work from home’ are setting up temporary offices, meaning ‘there is also a risk of an increase in electrical fires’. Hazards include overloading plug sockets, using ‘counterfeit or incorrect’ device chargers and ‘”daisy-chaining’” multiple extension leads together.
Finally, it noted that another concern around people ‘spending more time at home’ is that this could lead to ‘higher heating bills’ that may in turn ‘tempt people to heat their home unsafely’. Dan Daly, LFB assistant commissioner for fire safety, commented: ‘It’s absolutely vital that in these uncertain and unprecedented times people don’t forget about basic fire safety in the home.
‘We are not trying to scaremonger, but clearly with increased numbers of people indoors for much longer periods of time, there is a heightened risk of fire. This is about keeping you and your loved ones safe and we must all do what we can to not inadvertently add pressure to our already challenged NHS.
‘There are such simple things we can all do to ensure we are keeping safe while we are all spending more time at home. The first thing you can do is test that your smoke alarms are working. This is all about basic fire safety awareness and the checks we are advising will take just a few minutes to carry out to keep you and your family safe.’