I have a friend who is big on using Yankee Candles - and he doesn't just light them up when guests come round - he's an every day user. Now, I'm a huge candle fan myself, but one thing I learnt when I was young was to never leave a candle burning when you leave the house.
The other week when I was round his place, we decided to nip out to the shops. I pointed out his lit candles and he told me he never bothers putting them out when he leaves the house. The worst thing about the situation? He has two cats. And animals, as we all know, are unpredictable.
But my dear friend isn't alone. Millions of careless Brits have confessed to literally ‘playing with fire’ by overloading their electrical sockets and abandoning burning candles, according to new research.
The survey shows countless homes across Britain contain fire hazards like overloaded sockets and flammable items left near cooker tops.
Four in 10 think nothing of leaving the TV on standby or smart phones on charge for a long period of time, while 36 per cent frequently leave clothes on red hot radiators.
And one in five admitted leaving candles unattended, while 16 per cent say they’ve left the house or gone to bed with their Christmas tree lights still switched on.
The poll of 2,000 adults reveals a serious gap between people’s confidence when it comes to fire safety and their practical knowledge.
For while 95 per cent of adults claim to know exactly what to do in a fire – but 35 per cent would NOT consider dialling 999.
Seven in ten reckon they know about emergency procedures, but the first actions for many before fleeing a house blaze would be to gather personal belongings, panic, scream, and hurl water or wet tea towels at the blaze.
And as a result of the lack of knowledge, 54 per cent said they haven’t taught their children what to do in the event of a fire.
A spokesman for Fireman Sam, which commissioned the research to launch a new fire safety campaign ahead of Bonfire Night, said: “It’s worrying to see that homes are full of fire risks that could be easily prevented.
“It is very important at this time of year that people are fully aware of not only the fire risks around the home, but also when they are out and about enjoying Bonfire Night festivities with their families.
“It is very easy to be forget about safety when you are having fun but a few easy steps could make all the difference in preventing any serious accidents”.
The study shows Brits think nothing of leaving something cooking unattended on the hob, or cooking when feeling very tired.
Thirteen per cent of people have left hair straighteners on, while 12 per cent have left the iron unattended.
In the lead up to bonfire night adults should take care, as many have been guilty of handling sparklers without gloves and then discarding the sparklers on the ground when finished, and even going back to a lit firework.
One in 10 people admit they’ve never tested their smoke alarm, while a further third only test it every six months to a year and 77 per cent don’t own a fire extinguisher.
The study shows many British adults are failing to undertake basic home maintenance which could also prevent a fire from starting.
Only 52 per cent ever clean out their toaster, while 54 per cent rarely turn off any of the electrical appliances in the home.
Only one in 10 people perform a floor to ceiling hazard check in all rooms of the house before going to bed, while six in 10 never clean out the link tray of the tumble dryer.
Getting the gas system checking by a professional would reduce the likelihood of gas related fires, and yet only 38 per cent of people have bothered. Similarly, only 19 per cent have had the house electrics checked.
When parents were asked why they hadn’t taught their own children basic fire safety skills, 26 per cent said they assumed it was covered at school.
A further 11 per cent say it is highly unlikely a fire would ever occur in the house, while 17 per cent are relying on their smoke alarms to alert the family to danger.
And ninety per cent of adults don’t have a fire safety plan to follow, instead a fifth reckon they’ll just shout ‘Fire!’ as loudly as they can, while 26 per cent would go and investigate where the fire was.
The Fireman Sam fire safety spokesman added: “Our advice to parents is always to be extra vigilant around the home and if they are out and about opt to attend a well-organised fireworks and bonfire display but importantly to make sure they have fun with their children too!”
TOP 20 FIRE HAZARDS IN AND AROUND THE HOME
- Leave the TV on standby
- Leave a smart phone charging overnight
- Leave clothes on a hot radiator
- Leave glass (such as vases) on the windowsill
- Leave a laptop charging overnight
- Leave something cooking unattended on the hob
- Over-clutter a storage cupboard
- Leave the hob on by accident
- Cook when very tired
- Leave burning candles unattended
- Go to bed with the Christmas tree lights on
- Overload electrical sockets
- Not wear gloves when handling sparklers
- Forget to unplug hair straighteners
- Leave tea towels close to the hob
- Go inside while the barbeque is still burning
- Leave the iron on unattended
- Leave flammable items such as recipe books and paper towels next to the hob
- Put a used sparkler on the ground
- Go back to a lit firework
Lauretta blogs and vlogs at www.HomeAndHorizon.com