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Fire blankets are a very important piece of fire protection equipment. They are very commonly seen in kitchens and other areas where fires can be a risk. Now a fire blanket, it is often seen to just be used in a kitchen to cover over a chip fire, but there is a lot more to them than that. You could use a fire blanket to wrap someone up who is burning to smother the flames. You can use it to protect yourself against heat, so if you needed to go through an area and wanted a barrier you can use these, and they are very easy to use, and very cheap. They are pretty much all the same. The actual blanket itself is usually held in a container like this, and it has 2 little fittings on the back, or a single fitting, where it can hook onto a wall. So the idea is you can pull the straps, the blanket will come out and you can use it very, very quickly. You have got to make sure that it is installed where it can be accessed. For example, if you had it over a cooker, you wouldn't want to lean over the flames to then get the fire blanket, so have it on another wall where you can get access to it very very quickly.
With the fire blankets, they will all have some sort of clip system; this one here has a clip so that as you pull it, the bottom will undo, and then as you pull the straps, the blanket itself will come out. Now the blanket won't catch fire - it is safe; however it will still get hot. So if you put this over a burning fat fryer or something like that, yes it will put the fire out, but the important thing is that it may also get hot so be careful not to burn yourself. So now we have undone the blanket, we will now look at the best way to hold it. We don't want to make any time where the flames will come over, so we don't want to be leaning over the blanket when we are placing over something, as again that flames can push up into your face. You wouldn't want it to come over your hands, so you can roll it right back so your hands are completely enclosed, also keeping your elbows in so when you are then smothering over the item, you can put it over nice and safely. If you are smothering over something like a chip pan on a cooker or something burning on a cooker, you have also got to be careful not to actually knock the burning item over. Imagine you are putting this over some boiling fat, and then you knock that over, obviously the burning fat is going to go all over the floor, over you and also spread the fire. So with this, be careful, look at what you are doing, arms fully out, lay that over the fire and then lay that down over the item. Once you have laid that over the item and it has put the fire out, don't just lift it straight up again. It might be very hot and it could just combust again, so leave it over the item and make sure you are expelling the air.
The way these work is to remove oxygen from the fire triangle. So by taking the oxygen out, you smother the fire and it puts the fire out. Fire blankets themselves are single use, so once you put it on, you are then going to throw it away, because they will have an element of protection, and when you use them, you will break down that protection. Also, they are not easy to put back in the box anyway so you must always make sure you have a spare one anyway when you have had to use one. Once you have put the fire out, then make sure that you ventilate the room and just get the smoke out of the room. Also, be very careful of where the fire is because if it is a container that you have put out, it may well have been fractured or damaged or the handle may have been melted, so there are a lot of other potential risks there. If you are wrapping someone else up in these - smothering them - because they have got burning clothing, you have got to make sure that the person gets on the floor. If someone is stood up and they are burning, the flames are going to come up to their face. So if we can knock them down to the floor, and then wrap them up in the blanket, then that will smother the flames. If you haven't got a blanket and someone was burning, get them onto the floor and you can roll them over on the floor. That may well put the flames out, if not put coats and things on them, and when using things such as coats, the coats would be potentially flammable so you need to be really, really careful. But you have got to balance it, the person is burning - how can we then get rid of that flame and smother the flame as quickly as possible?
And finally, let's look at when not to use a fire blanket. One thing you wouldn't want to be using these for is when the fire you are trying to put out is bigger than the blanket. It will have no effect whatsoever, so only use these with very small fires. Also what you don't do with these is throw it over a fire. So, for example, if you had a burning pan and you got hold of this and tried to throw it on from a distance, that is not going to work, because you are also forcing more air into the fire, you are potentially running the risk of spilling it, and you are not going to be able to get a seal and therefore it is not going to work.