Water and electricity don’t mix. However, when it comes to our bathrooms, we rely on both at the same time. We want power showers that deliver instant hot water to our desired temperature, sockets for our electrical grooming appliances, and heaters and towel rails to keep our towels at just the right temperatures for when we get out of the bath. In short, we want to have our cake and eat it too.
Fires can start in bathrooms for all kinds of reasons, with the most common being electrical fires. Despite the presence of water, fires in the bathroom are surprisingly frequent. Here is our advice for making your bathroom fire-resistant.
Use A Pull-Cord For Electric Heater
While it might be tempting to wheel a heater into your bathroom during the colder months of the year, doing so could be a potential fire hazard. Heaters, like other electrical equipment, run the risk of causing an electrical fire.
The safest way to operate electrical equipment in the bathroom is with pull-cords. You may already have a pull-cord to activate the shower or a towel rail, so consider adding one for your electric heater too.
The safest way to heat a bathroom is with central heating. Central heating requires no electricity source in the bathroom itself.
Use Pull-Cords For Light Fixing
The safest mode of operating lights in your bathroom is, again, with pull-cords. Pull-cords should dangle down from the ceiling and be placed near the door for easy access.
Some old bathrooms use hanging lights which dangle from the ceiling exposing them to moisture. Moisture exposure could be dangerous and cause a short circuit, so for added safety, it’s best to use bathroom-specific lighting solutions. It’s sensible, therefore, to choose bathroom lights which recess into the ceiling and are covered with a special, moisture-repelling casing.
Don’t Light Candles In The Bathroom
A bathroom is a place that people go to relax and unwind after a hard day, pampering themselves and slipping into a restful state. And what better way to relax than with rose petals in the water and some candles surrounding the tub?
The best way to avoid a fire in the bathroom is not to light any candles in the first place. But if you really can’t resist the urge, then remember to blow them out once you’ve finished. Candles left to burn unattended could be a fire hazard.
Wallpapered bathrooms are particularly prone to fire, whereas tiles and PVC wall coverings may be more resistant to flames.
Eliminate Electrical Sockets From The Bathroom
Electrical fires occur when water causes a circuit to short, leading to an energy feedback loop. As the energy builds, the material can no longer contain the heat, and it may burst into flames.
Although electrical fires are unlikely in most rooms in your house, they are a lot more common in the bathroom because of the exposure to water which, as you know, can conduct electricity.
Ideally, you shouldn’t have any electrical outlets in your bathroom at all. Some bathrooms have electric razor outlets with two pins, but these are a special kind of outlet specifically designed to resist shorting by water. If you have regular outlets in your bathroom, consider hiring a professional to have them removed immediately. They could be unsafe and potentially illegal.
Choose Fire-Certified Bathroom Cladding
The bathroom cladding you choose can make a big difference to the fire-resistance of your bathroom. Some bathroom cladding is treated with special chemicals which prevent flames from taking hold in the event of a fire, providing less fuel and leading to less intense fires, should one break out for some reason. Some cladding does not ignite at all, no matter how extreme the flames.
Install A Smoke Alarm
Often the best way to reduce the damage from fire is to catch it early. Putting a smoke detector in your bathroom can inform you immediately that there’s a fire, allowing you to take action.
Clean Debris From Your Extractor Fan
Although most extractor fans are perfectly safe, some can become dangerous over time because of a buildup of lint and other dusty material in the fan motor. Because the fluff is dry, it acts as a kind of kindling - all it needs is a spark to ignite, and you’ve got a fire on your hands.
If you use a fan, it’s worth periodically disassembling it, cleaning out any buildup of flammable material, and then replacing it. Extractor fans cause more than $100,000 worth of property damage per year.