Working from home? Stay fire safe
More of us than ever are finding ourselves working from home. At your place of work, your employer has a responsibility to make sure that your environment is safe for you to work in and that there are measures in place to protect you in the event of fire – but when you’re working from your lounge, kitchen, bedroom or study, you introduce some new hazards into your own home environment.
Here’s how to take steps towards keeping fire safe when you’re working from home:
- Test your smoke alarm every week. This gives you assurance that it is still in working order at the point of testing. If it doesn’t sound as it should, it’s likely that you may either need to replace the battery, or clean or replace the detector head.
- Be careful of overloading sockets. Laptops, monitors, mobile phones, printers – working from home can significantly increase the number of electrical items requiring a power source in your living space, in addition to all of your existing domestic items.
Make sure that sockets are only loaded to their capacity and no more; unplug any items that aren’t in use to make room for new equipment, rather than increasing the load on extension leads.
Ensure that all power sources such as leads and cables are in visibly good condition and tangle free, and that they are positioned where they are well ventilated to avoid over-heating.
- Don’t leave equipment plugged in to charge overnight. Leaving devices to charge overnight increases the risk of a fire starting whilst no-one is awake to notice it and take early action. If you need to charge laptops and work phones, try to do it during the daytime whilst you work or in the evenings, when you’re most likely to be awake and alert to any problems.
- At the end of your working day, fully shut down your computer. When you’re in middle of a piece of work, it can be tempting to leave your computer on standby overnight so you can pick straight up where you left off. In addition, some organisations run their ICT updates during the night which requires equipment to be left on.
Taking a few moments to save your work, and scheduling ICT updates for the early evening when computers can be left on after working hours but turned off before bed time, will mean that you can perform a full shut down of any equipment at the end of every day. This reduces the risk of an electrical fire starting and developing unnoticed during the night.
- Don’t leave laptops on soft furnishings. Not everyone has access to a desk at home, which can result in improvising a workspace on sofas or beds. If you are in this position, make sure you have a hard surface on which to rest your laptop, both whilst you work and every time you get up to go and do something else.
Resting laptops on body parts and soft furnishings can result in reduced access for essential ventilation, which can lead to machines overheating. Choosing the right surface reduces the risk of physical burns to the user and decreases the chance of a fire starting.
- Close doors before bed. Most doors at home are not fitted with self-closing devices, which leaves your home open to the risk of smoke and fire being able to spread easily from one room to another. Closing doors before you go to bed will help slow the spread of smoke and flame, providing some protection to your means of escape and buying you more time to be alerted to the presence of a fire by your smoke alarm.