Electrical and fire safety
To ensure that electrical appliances are working normally, they have to be kept maintained. Most electrical work may be undertaken only by a specialist but certain simple jobs can be performed oneself without any special rights on condition that you are sure of what you are doing. For instance, switches, electrical sockets, light fixtures and fuses can be replaced (not install news ones, however). Cable switches, light fixtures, extension cords and cable sockets may be fixed and replaced oneself. Switch off the power first! The areas with the biggest risk:
- Bathroom and sauna – the most important safety rule is that you should never simultaneously use water or be near running water when using an electrical appliance (except for washing machine, hot water heater). Electrical appliances (hair dryer, electric razor) must never be used in the bathtub or in the shower. Lights must be covered by a dome.
- Kitchen – here, too, there is a risk that electrical appliances will come into contact with water, as a result of which one should carefully follow safety requirements. If you use more than one home appliance at the same time, the load on the electrical system may be too great and the cables may catch on fire.
- Garage and workshop – high-power tools are primarily used here, which imposes stricter requirements on the condition of wiring. If these rooms are underheated, the electrical system could be damp and thus be hazardous. As flammable substances are often used in these rooms, an electrical system that is not in order may result in a fire.
To prevent fire, it is paramount to know and follow fire safety requirements. The majority of all fires are caused by carelessness.
Electricity typically results in fire when cables or wires are defective or overloaded. If an electrical appliance catches on fire, it must be immediately removed from the wall socket. If this is not possible, the fuses (or the equivalent in the case of older buildings) should be switched off at the junction box. The most hazardous heating appliances are ones that use open flame – hearths, fireplaces, stoves.
- A source of heat with an open flame must never be left unattended!
- Clothes must not be dried on or very close to heating appliances nor should any other combustible material be stored there!
- Heating appliances require constant maintenance. If the building has a chimney, it must be cleaned regularly. A layer of soot may collect on the inside walls of an uncleaned chimney; this is flammable.
The three key home protection devices are the smoke detector, which emits a signal when there is a fire, fire extinguishing blanket, which puts out a burning grease, TV or other small fire, and the fire extinguisher, which helps put out larger fires. A smoke detector is a device that reacts to the residue from combustion and is designed to detect fire and emit a signal when a fire first beaks out when it is still within the means of an individual to put out the fire by him or herself. It is compulsory to use a smoke detector. In homes with a stove or fireplace in which a closed damper can result in carbon monoxide entering the home, a carbon monoxide detector is also required in addition to the smoke detector.
Every person who uses a kitchen should have a fibreglass fire extinguishing blanket to smother small blazes. This is the ideal way to put out grease fires (water often spreads the fire) and smaller electrical appliances (coffee machine, radio, television. Do not under any circumstances use water to put out a grease fire! It is easy to use a fire extinguisher, it is within the ability of every family member, even older children. The three most common types of extinguishers in Estonia are: powder, foam and CO2. The most effective and universal type for home use is the powder extinguisher, but for putting out grease fires in the kitchen, you should use a special grease fire extinguisher, which is basically a foam extinguisher. The extinguisher must be kept in a secure place, in the foyer or corridor, so that it would always be handy.