Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is highlighting the importance of having a bedtime routine after the simple act of closing an internal door at night saved the lives of an elderly couple when a fire broke out in their Wirral home.
Fire crews from the local station had recently carried out a Home Fire Safety Check at the property and had offered fire safety advice to the occupants, including the importance of closing doors when they go to bed.
When one of the occupants was alerted to a fire in the property, they remembered the advice given by the firefighters only days earlier – closing the bedroom door to protect the other occupant from a fire which had started in the kitchen.
Fire crews arrived on the scene shortly before 11pm on Monday 24 January, finding one of the occupants outside. Crews were given succinct information of where the fire was located and where the remaining occupant was located inside the property, allowing firefighters wearing breathing apparatus to quickly carry out a rescue.
Both occupants were taken to hospital with smoke inhalation and both are now in good spirits and recovering well.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, although there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances. The reason that the occupiers were able to survive the blaze is clear, with photographs taken by investigators showing that while the rest of the home was completely destroyed by the fire, the bedroom – protected by a simple inexpensive closed door – was unscathed in comparison.
Group Manager Mark Thomas said, “The occupants of this property are extremely lucky. The photographs taken following the incident show just how severe this fire was and how it spread so dangerously throughout their home. Had it not been for the bedroom door being closed at the time of the fire, and the occupant then pulling it closed behind him as he investigated, this story could have ended very differently.
“You are more at risk of fire when you are asleep but having a bedtime routine is an easy way of reducing that risk. Take time before you go to bed to look around your home for potential fire risks. Turn off and unplug any electrical items that are not designed to be left on and avoid charging items like phones, tablets, e-cigarettes and laptops overnight.
“Make sure candles and cigarettes are extinguished properly before you go to bed and make sure all exit routes are clear and keys are where everyone can find them. Be sure to close all internal doors at night as this will help to stop any fire or smoke from spreading should a fire occur. Finally, take your phone with you to bed so you can call for help in the event of an emergency. Remember, in the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999 – do not attempt to tackle the fire yourself.
The fire started in the kitchen of the property although the exact cause cannot yet be determined. GM Thomas added, “The most important thing you can do to keep you and your loved ones safe from fire in the home is to make sure you have working smoke alarms and we would urge residents across Merseyside to take time out of their day to check they are working. If you have elderly relatives do this for them.
“If you hear a smoke alarm sounding, don’t ignore it – even if it isn’t yours. If you hear a smoke alarm go off in a neighbour’s property, check it out and call 999 immediately if you suspect a fire. Those vital few seconds could help save a life. Don’t try to enter the property yourself if you think there is a fire – get out, stay out and call 999.”
Follow these tips to stay safe from fire:
- Close all internal doors
- Switch off and unplug electrical appliances unless they are designed to be left on
- Avoid charging electrical items like phones, tablets, e-cigarettes and laptops overnight
- Put candles and cigarettes out properly. Don’t smoke in bed
- Make sure exit routes are clear and keys are where everyone can find them
- Take your phone to bed with you so you can call for help in the event of an emergency.
- Never leave your cooking unattended. If you need to leave the kitchen for any reason, turn off the heat until you go back into the kitchen. And don’t forget to double check you have turned off the hob and the cooker once you have finished cooking
- Keep loose clothing and tea towels away from flames. They can catch fire quickly and cause nasty injuries or even worse
- Avoid cooking when you are tired/drowsy or have been drinking alcohol
- Clean your oven and grill regularly. A build-up of fat or grease can easily ignite and cause a fire
- Avoid using chip pans. Electric deep fat fryers are much safer. NEVER put water on a chip pan or oil fire.
- You should have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home
- Consider installing additional alarms in rooms with electrical appliances or sleeping areas
- Test your smoke alarms once a week
- In the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999.
Look out for your neighbours
- If you hear a neighbour’s smoke alarm, don’t ignore it. Instead, check it out and call 999 immediately if you suspect a fire. Those vital few seconds could help save a life. Don’t assume someone else has already called.
- Don’t try to enter the property yourself if you think there is a fire – get out, stay out and call 999
- If you have safety concerns about a relative, friend or neighbour, call the fire service – they are able to offer fire safety advice and often improve conditions.
If you know someone who may benefit from help, call 0800 731 5958 or email FireServiceDirect@merseyfire.gov.uk particularly anyone who:
- Is over 65 years old
- Is vulnerable or may require additional assistance or support
- Lives somewhere that is unsuitable or safe
- Is using unsafe heating methods
- May have extreme mobility issues that would impede them escaping in the event of a fire
- May have a sensory impairment resulting from Alzheimer’s dementia, strong medication, alcohol or drug issues or may be heard of hearing
- Has language limitations which can put people and their families at greater risk of fire
- Does not have working smoke alarms in their property
- If a relative, friend or neighbour has had a fire in the home that didn’t require the fire service to attend, please still call and let the fire service know.
For fire safety advice, or if you do not have working smoke alarms in your home, please call 0800 731 5958.