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What if your house burns down?

Saturday 20 August 1664

primitive methods in those days

Thence I walked to Cheapside, there to see the effect of a fire there this morning, since four o’clock; which I find in the house of Mr. Bois, that married Dr. Fuller’s niece, who are both out of towne, leaving only a mayde and man in towne. It begun in their house, and hath burned much and many houses backward, though none forward; and that in the great uniform pile of buildings in the middle of Cheapside. I am very sorry for them, for the Doctor’s sake.

For most of us it is unthinkable that we return home  like this unfortunate couple to find a smouldering ruin where our house previously was. To find that you have been burgled is bad enough but to find the whole thing taken by the forces of nature is even worse. The people from Syria have to suffer this on a daily basis but most of this uncomfortable factual material is conveniently put out of focus.

The most common source of fire in a property is faulty appliances including cookers at 50%. Smokers’ material is a long way down at 7%. People in the house at the time stand the greatest risk of being overcome by gas or smoke rather then getting burnt. Interestingly, fires where a smoke alarm was present but either did not operate nor did not raise the alarm accounts for 37% of all dwelling fire related fatalities. About 200 indoor fire incidents happen each day. In 2015 to 16 there were 73,000 primary fires in England, 11,000 in Scotland and 5000 in Wales. From these conflagrations there were  7,700 casualties in England, 1300 in Scotland and 600 in Wales. We can say that is a small but significant risk for us all to bear in mind.

If you really want to know more click here

Whilst the chance of having such a disaster is low, it is quite a clever plan to reduce the odds even further. It is risky to have a to-do list of things you really must get round to but never do.

One fundamental idea is the checking of your smoke alarm which takes all of 30 seconds.

I’m somewhat obsessive in checking my appliances before I leave even if I’m just going shopping particularly the cooker to make sure I have not left the gas on. The living room coal fire is closed anyway and we mostly rely on central heating. Yes, we do clean the chimney once a year even if we don’t think it needs it

Spontaneous combustion is unlikely.

Also when did we last check out insurance policy and was the cover adequate? Did we actually read the documents when they came through last time for your annual insurance and have you added things that you need to?

Does a neighbour have a key to your front door so that if an incident arises the Fire Brigade do not have to break it down. I’m not sure if that would be covered on your policy.

you never know when it might come in useful.

Did you think of having a small fire extinguisher, water or powder-based, which would attend to a small conflagration before it got out of hand – typically a kitchen fire.

We do have one (illustrated) and it is kept by the front door in the hall. Also our garden hose is permanently connected at the back of the house. I’m not saying it is a substitute for calling  the fire brigade but if caught in the early stages it will save damage.

Space heaters and blowers when placed near items such as curtains can quickly heat them up to ignition temperatures. Oh and when cooking be careful about mixing hot fat and water. Look on Youtube for spectacular demonstrations of this. Christmas lights? Candles?  ooops.

Consequential damage happens when incompetent people repair your electrics or your gas so it’s as well to get a recommended service agent. No one will mind being asked for their qualifications if they are genuine.

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of the Common Sense Company.

PS the new pillow made a great difference and I actually got a stiff neck because my neck had been so used to being in the wrong position. I think it will take two or three days to get used to it – can you believe getting used to a pillow takes time.