Jane Embury looks at how the number of household fires rose during lockdown.
For many people, lockdown had its compensations.
For example, spending more time with the family. Or lounging in the garden. Or making more use of the barbecue.
Hardly surprising, therefore, that lockdown saw a spike in accidental household fires.
The simple fact is that more of us were at home for long periods doing stupid things.
Northern Ireland, for example, saw a 50% jump in residential fires between March and April. Fire and rescue services attended nearly 500 additional incidents.
Candles and matches were the main causes of the additional fires. There were also more cooking and electrical incidents.
The insurer Aviva is urging residents to take extra care, particularly with barbecues and bonfires.
They’ve seen hot cinders setting fire to bins and explosions from gas cylinders. More bizarrely, the heat from a barbecue melting a conservatory.
There is also evidence of people burning household rubbish and garden waste on bonfires, with unexpected and expensive consequences.
Of course, human stupidity has a part to play. For example, the woman in Bridgend, South Wales, who accidentally set her house on fire in 2014.
She was trying to kill a spider by spraying it with a lit aerosol can.
Forbes Magazine has some light-hearted examples of stupidity and fire.
For example, the American tycoon who decided to cook a single chicken breast in a deep fryer. No problem, except the fryer was in his basement and he then left the house to walk his dog. The subsequent fire cost him $1 million.
Or the other rich idiot who thought it was a good idea to hang a Warhol painting over his fireplace. The painting melted, leaving him with a $multi-million claim.
Generally, most fires start from only the smallest of accidental causes. That can be a faulty wire or casually dropped match.
Best therefore to have smoke alarms fitted. Establish escape routes if the worst happens, and make sure they’re not cluttered. If a fire happens at night, you don’t want trip hazards.
Also, at bedtime, make sure that non-essential electrical appliances are turned off. Also make sure that fires are made safe and candles blown out.
For extra piece of mind, invest in fire extinguishers suitable for electrical, non-electrical and hot fat fires.
Make sure that everyone in the house knows how to use them and on what kind of fire.
The fact is that fire is both friend and foe. Modern glazing systems from companies such as Wrightstyle are designed to contain fire.
We also know how devastating fires can be, wherever they occur. They can be particularly devastating in homes, filled with everything we own and all our memories.
But no amount of prudent fire protection will be of any use if you hang your Warhol over the fireplace.