In 2020, millions of office workers made the switch to working from home. Home offices were hastily set up in spare bedrooms and living spaces across the country – and some have been hastily thrown up to meet the purpose.
When setting up a home office, you might have considered factors like internet access and ambient noise levels. You might have invested in a comfortable office chair, or perhaps a mug with a humorous phrase emblazoned across the front.
One factor that you might not have considered is the possibility of a fire starting. While offices and shared workspaces tend to put in place procedures to forestall disaster, home offices don’t tend to be extended the same courtesy. But of course, a fire is a serious thing, and it’s important that we know how to deal with them whether we’re telecommuting or not.
What causes a fire?
In a home office, there are a number of potential fire starters.
Your office might be loaded with electrical equipment, some of which may be faulty to the point that they’ll one day catch fire. This is a remote possibility. What’s likelier is that heat will build up where cables are tangled in knots, and airflow is restricted. The same goes for high-powered lights.
Keep the office space clear and tidy, and avoid overloading plug sockets, in order to minimise the likelihood of an electrical fire.
When you’re in a shared office, the rules (and politeness) might prevent you from sparking up. When you’re at home, however, the temptation might be to smoke regularly throughout the day, and to keep an ashtray to hand on your desk. An ember that’s inadvertently cast onto a carpet might spread, especially if it goes unnoticed. An automatic ventilation system will help you to deal with the build-up of smoke.
How to Prevent a Fire
If you have a fire extinguisher to hand, you’ll be able to deal with small fires before they have a chance to turn into big ones. You don’t want to have to think fast when you realise that there’s something wrong – instead, have a CO2 extinguisher (that’s black-label) to hand. These are built to deal with electrical fires. Alternatively, you might get a blue one, which puts out a dry powder that will deal with just about anything except for chip-pan fires. Point it at the base of the fire and blast it.