Lockdown fire safety warning

People who work from home are being warned to be extra vigilant about fire safety during the Covid 19 lockdown.

Figures from the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service show that there have been 10 fire deaths across Scotland during the lockdown.

Inverclyde Council has teamed up with the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service to highlight a range of risks that affect those who regularly use laptops and mobile phones for business purposes.

Councillor Tommy McVey, Convener of the Local Policy & Fire Scrutiny Committee, said, “All of this advice applies to everyone who uses a computer or mobile phone at home. But more and more of us are now working from make-shift offices in our living rooms and bedrooms and we need to be aware of the new hazards that come with these new ways of working.

“Make sure that your laptop is on a hard surface so that it doesn’t overheat. The processor generates a lot of heat and the internal fan needs to be able to circulate cooling air around it.

“Don’t overload electrical sockets by plugging a lot of devices into adaptors and extension cables.

“Don’t leave mobile phones and tablets on charge overnight. They can catch fire. And make sure that when you go to bed you switch off all electrical appliances that aren’t designed to left on overnight. Always turn computers and laptops off at night.”

While there are new hazards to manage Cllr McVey is keen to stress that fire safety is an everyday issue and that all the risks that existed before the lockdown are still there.

He said, “Covid 19 is a danger to us all so let’s make sure that we keep all the other day-to-day risks to a minimum.

“Older people, who smoke and live alone are more at risk of dying in a house fire than any other group of people. During the lockdown you should contact your local fire station for advice if you, or someone you know, is over 50, smokes, lives alone, has long term health issues and uses medical oxygen.

“The checklist below is an important aid for staying safe, particularly in these challenging times when we are all spending more time at home than ever before.”

  • Don’t leave cooking unattended
  • Don’t cook if you’re tired, if you’ve been drinking or taking drugs or using strong medication. The late-night, chip pan fire is still a regular killer
  • If you do smoke, smoke outside, at an open outside door or at a window. Never smoke if you’ve taken a drink or drugs. People falling asleep in an armchair and then dropping a cigarette onto the floor is an all too common cause of fatal fires
  • Keep exits clear and don’t block escape routes with anything that can catch fire. Piles of newspapers or magazines can often be an issue
  • Don’t run your washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher overnight. Make sure they are all switched off before you go to bed. It’s safe to leave fridges and freezers on overnight
  • Turn off portable heaters and put a fire guard around open fires before you go to bed
  • Make sure that your front door keys are in a safe place and easy to find in an emergency
  • Close all internal doors when you go to bed. They can buy valuable time and help prevent the spread of smoke if there is a fire
  • Make sure that all candles and cigarettes have been put out properly before going to bed
  • Make sure you have smoke alarms and that they work. Test them weekly.