Five-year-old girl alerts sleeping family of house fire in Blacon
The parents of a five-year-old girl who alerted her family to a fire in their home in the middle of the night are urging others to learn from the ‘terrifying experience’.
The fire at a house in Boleyn Close, Blacon, near Chester, was caused by an electrical fault involving a razor that had been left charging on the upstairs landing overnight.
With no smoke alarm on the landing and the alarm downstairs failing to activate, the sleeping family would have been unaware of the life-threatening fire had it not been for the five-year-old’s timely intervention.
She woke up to find her bedroom filling with thick smoke at around 2am on Monday 11 November and began to scream.
Her screams woke up her nan Terry Evans, who managed to extinguish the fire and unplug the electric razor.
The girl’s seven-year-old brother and their parents Russell Evans and Louanne Tushingham were also woken up and the family all got out of the house after being instructed to do so following a 999 call to Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Firefighters swiftly attended the address and administered oxygen to the two children, who were suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.
They were then taken to hospital by paramedics and were discharged the following day after being monitored overnight.
Their dad Russell, 38, said: “The fire has caused significant damage to the landing but we are all feeling incredibly lucky. The consequences of the fire could have been much worse.
“The children sleep with their door open and their bedroom is nearest to the landing.
“Had it not been for my daughter waking up and screaming as smoke was filling their room we could have all died in our sleep. We will all be forever indebted to her.
“I had left my electric razor charging on the landing when I went to bed, something I have been doing every two weeks for the past two years.
“You read stories of fires stemming from electrical devices being charged but you never think it will happen to you.
“Now that it has happened to us and we have gone through this terrifying experience we have well and truly learnt the lesson that you should never leave anything charging when you are sleeping or out of the house.
“The same goes with making sure that you have a working smoke alarm on every floor of your home.
“I really hope that others learn those potentially life-saving lessons from the fire too.”
Firefighters from Chester and Powey Lane fire stations attended the incident.
Louanne, 34, added: “The firefighters were fantastic, arriving within five minutes of being called and immediately administered oxygen to our children, who were coughing and had black faces as a result of the thick smoke and soot.
“They also fitted smoke alarms at the bottom and the top of the stairs and reminded us that they need to be checked regularly to make sure they are working.
“We presumed that the old smoke alarm we had at the bottom of the stairs was working, but we hadn’t checked that it was working.
“It is frightening to think what might have happened had it not been for our five-year-old waking up when she did.”
Nick Evans, Head of Prevention at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “I am relieved to hear that the children are okay and have been discharged from hospital and that the family have learnt important lessons following their ordeal.
“Incidents like this emphasise the dangers of leaving charging electrical devices unsupervised and the fact that it is essential to have a working smoking alarm on every floor of your home.
“For maximum protection, a smoke alarm should be fitted in every room of your home except the bathroom, kitchen and garage, and a heat detector should be fitted in the kitchen.
“Smoke alarms are relatively cheap to buy and having them fitted can make the difference between life and death, as early detection will provide the vital time that you need to escape in the event of a fire.”
Charging electrical devices
You should never leave devices charging unsupervised for long periods, particularly when you are in bed or out of the house, and you should only use the charger supplied with the device.
Connections of other chargers may seem similar, or even identical, but the power rating may be different, which can cause a fire.
You also need to be careful where you charge electrical devices – follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on charging and never charge them near soft furnishings or other combustibles.
Ensure that all electrical devices are bought from a reputable source and carry CE certification, and if you have any safety concerns contact Trading Standards.
Any smoke alarm that you buy should meet British Standard BS EN14604:2005 and carry the well-known Kitemark.
Once you have a smoke alarm fitted it will need regular maintenance.
If it is not a 10-year alarm you should replace the battery once a year. The same goes for mains powered smoke alarms that have a battery back-up.
You should check that the alarm is working by pressing the test button once a week.
Once a month you should vacuum and wipe the smoke alarm casing to ensure that dust is not blocking the sensor chamber.
If your smoke alarm is making an intermittent bleeping/chirping noise, please follow these steps:
Check that your smoke alarm is definitely the source of the bleeping/chirping – make sure that the noise is not coming from another alarm (smoke/carbon monoxide/gas/burglar alarm) by process of elimination
Clean the alarm as per the instructions above
Test the alarm by pressing the test button
Change the battery, unless it is a 10-year alarm.
For mains powered smoke alarms, please ensure that they are checked/serviced by a registered electrician.
For information on the types of smoke alarms, and advice on how to fit and maintain them, visit https://www.cheshirefire.gov.uk/public-safety/smoke-alarms-for-homes.
If a fire occurs in your home do not take any risks with your safety. Get out, stay out and call 999.