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Eight things you need to fight a small house fire

House fires can cause devastating damage once they're out of control. But don't panic. You can do plenty to put out a small fire. The key is to be prepared. 

Make sure you have the right equipment to hand. Here's what you need: 

 

1. Fire extinguisher 

This seems like an obvious piece of life-saving kit. But some extinguishers could actually make your fire worse. 

Foam-based extinguishers can't be used for chip or fat pan fires. Don’t use water extinguishers on cooking oil or electrical fires. Generally speaking, most extinguishers aren’t suitable for kitchen fires. However, some are ideal for small living room or bedroom fires. 

 

Most extinguishers can be used on soft furnishings and carpets. Before buying, check what your extinguisher can be used for. And always make sure you're using the correct extinguisher. Also, keep extinguishers well out of reach of small children.

 

3. Fire safety blanket 

This is good for cooking or electrical fires. (Most extinguishers can’t be used for these). It starves the fire of oxygen. You can also use it when clothing catches fire. Keep a fire blanket on your wall or in a cupboard. (Make sure it is easy to access in an emergency).

 

Only buy fire blanket from a reputable seller online. They should have a proven track record in the fire safety market. Avoid the cheapest options. These might not be as effective. 

 

3. Baking soda or salt 

These are unexpected but highly effective ingredients for grease fires. Baking soda will probably work for smaller fires. It releases carbon dioxide when heated. This starves the fire of oxygen. Salt really absorbs the heat from larger fires. Always keep tubs on standby when cooking.

 

4. Damp towel

Keep a towel handy in your kitchen. You can wet it and throw it on small fires. Use damp towels under doorways and over ventilation shafts. They can keep a more serious fire at bay. They can also stop deadly smoke spreading. You may not be able to escape bigger fires. In this case, fill a bathtub and flood your flat.

 

Smoke can be deadly if you breathe it in. Cover your mouth with a towel. Try to breathe through your nose only. Remember damp towels may not work for chip pan fires. Use a fire safety blanket and baking soda/salt.

 

5. Working fire alarm 

This doesn’t stop fires. It alerts you early so you can get to safety. Fire alarms are crucial if you’re out of the room or asleep. Test your alarm monthly. Change any batteries at least every six months. 

 

6. Fire escape ladders 

These could provide a much-needed escape route from apartments. Simply unfold and attach to the outside of your window. 

 

7. Accessible mobile or landline phone 

Sometimes, you can’t put out a fire yourself. That’s when you should call the fire service. Plan your escape route in advance. Then you can get out once you've made the call. Everyone in your house should know the number for fire services. They should also know the escape route. This includes children. They may not be able to rely on you in an emergency. You could be separated from them or injured.

 

8. A cool head

Fires can be frightening. It's easy to panic in the heat of the moment. Have a plan of action for each type of fire. You'll know exactly how to deal with it. And when to leave it to the experts.