Fire blankets are essential safety devices that can help you put out small fires, protect yourself from flames, and prevent fire damage. But did you know that there are different types of fire blankets, each with its own characteristics and advantages? In this article, we will explain the different materials and designs of fire blankets, how they work, and what you should consider when buying one.
- Fire blankets are sheets of fire-resistant material that smother fires by cutting off their oxygen supply.
- Fire blankets are usually made of woven fibreglass, but some may also contain other materials such as wool, aramid fibers, or silica.
- Fire blankets come in different sizes and shapes, depending on their intended use and the potential size of the fire.
- Fire blankets can be used for various purposes, such as extinguishing small fires, protecting yourself from flames, putting out clothing fires, and treating burns.
- Fire blankets should be tested to meet the current standard BS EN 1869:1997 and replaced every 7 years or after use.
What are Fire Blankets?
A fire blanket is a sheet of woven fire-resistant material that is designed to extinguish small fires. Fire blankets work by smothering the fire and cutting off its oxygen supply. Oxygen is one of the three elements that a fire needs to burn, the other two being heat and fuel. By depriving the fire of oxygen, the fire blanket helps to extinguish the flames.
Fire blankets are typically packaged in a quick-release format for easy deployment. They are stored in a small, compact container, and when needed, you simply pull the tabs to release the blanket.
What are Fire Blankets Used For?
Fire blankets are used for a variety of purposes related to fire safety, such as:
- Extinguishing Small Fires: A fire blanket can be used to smother small fires before they become unmanageable. This is particularly useful for kitchen fires, such as grease or oil fires, which can get out of control quickly and are unsafe to put out with water.
- Protection During Fire Escapes: If a person needs to move through a fire or flames to escape, a fire blanket can provide a protective shield. The individual wraps the blanket around themselves to help shield their body from the heat and flames.
- Putting Out Clothing Fires: If a person’s clothes catch fire, a fire blanket can be used to extinguish the flames. The person should stop, drop, and roll, and the blanket can then be used to smother and extinguish any remaining flames.
- In Emergency First Aid: In some cases, a fire blanket can also be used to treat burns by covering the burned area, which can help keep it clean and protect it from further damage. However, this is a secondary use, and the blanket should not be used as a substitute for proper medical treatment.
- In Professional Settings: Fire blankets are also used in professional settings, such as laboratories or industrial workplaces, where there’s a risk of small fires.
What are Fire Blankets Made Of?
Fire blankets are typically made of materials like fibreglass or wool that are woven in such a way that they don’t easily catch fire and can withstand high temperatures. This allows them to remain intact and effective even when directly exposed to flames.
Different types of fire blankets may have different compositions and properties depending on their intended use and performance. Here are some common materials used in fire blankets:
- Fibreglass: This is the most common material used in fire blankets. Fibreglass is made of fine strands of glass that are woven together to form a flexible fabric. Fibreglass has excellent heat resistance and durability and can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees Celsius.
- Wool: Some fire blankets may also contain wool as an additional layer or coating. Wool is a natural fiber that has good insulation and flame-retardant properties. Wool can also absorb moisture and prevent skin irritation when used as a first aid treatment.
- Aramid Fibers: Aramid fibers are synthetic fibers that have high strength and heat resistance. They are often used in protective clothing and equipment for firefighters and military personnel. Aramid fibers can resist temperatures up to 370 degrees Celsius.
- Silica: Silica is a mineral that has very high heat resistance and can withstand temperatures up to 1000 degrees Celsius⁹. Silica is often used in industrial-grade fire blankets that need to cope with extreme heat sources such as welding or cutting.
How to Choose the Right Fire Blanket?
When choosing a fire blanket, there are several factors that you should consider, such as:
- Size: The size of the fire blanket should match the potential size of the fire. The fire blanket should be able to cover the entire fire in order to smother and extinguish it. The smallest size may be more suited to baking trays or frying pan fires at home, whereas a larger size may be required for commercial kitchens, workshops, or clothing fires.
- Shape: The shape of the fire blanket may also affect its usability and effectiveness. Some fire blankets are rectangular, while others are square or circular. Rectangular fire blankets may be easier to wrap around objects or people, while square or circular fire blankets may be more convenient to store and deploy.
- Quality: The quality of the fire blanket should meet the current standard BS EN 1869:1997¹¹, which specifies the requirements and test methods for fire blankets. The fire blanket should also have a clear label with instructions and warnings. You can also look for a fire blanket that has a kitemark, which is a symbol of quality and safety awarded by the British Standards Institution.
- Durability: The durability of the fire blanket depends on the material and the frequency of use. Fire blankets should be replaced every 7 years or after use, whichever comes first. You should also check the fire blanket regularly for any signs of damage or wear and tear.
How to Use a Fire Blanket?
To use a fire blanket correctly, you should follow these steps:
- Turn off the heat source if possible.
- Pull the tapes downwards to release the fire blanket from its container.
- Wrap the corners of the blanket around your hands to protect them from the fire.
- Place the blanket over the object that is on fire, making sure to cover it completely.
- Leave the blanket in place until the fire is out and the object is cool.
- Call the emergency services if needed.
Here is a table that summarizes how to use a fire blanket for different situations:
|Situation||How to Use a Fire Blanket|
|Small Fire||Cover the fire with the blanket and leave it until it is out.|
|Fire Escape||Wrap the blanket around yourself and move away from the fire.|
|Clothing Fire||Stop, drop, and roll, then cover the person with the blanket.|
|Burn Treatment||Cover the burned area with the blanket and seek medical attention.|
Fire blankets are useful tools that can help you prevent and deal with small fires. They are made of fire-resistant materials that smother fires by cutting off their oxygen supply. They can be used for various purposes, such as extinguishing small fires, protecting yourself from flames, putting out clothing fires, and treating burns. You should choose a fire blanket that suits your needs and meets the quality standards. You should also know how to use a fire blanket correctly and safely.
We hope this article has helped you understand the different types of fire blankets, how they are made, what they are used for, and how to choose the right one for your needs. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Stay safe!