A fire blanket is a quick and effective method to suppress small fires which occur in the home or workplace. A fire blanket is made to specific safety standards and is tested to comply with BS EN 1869:1997 standards with a BSi Kitemark and BAFE rating (British Approvals for Fire Equipment).

A fire blanket is not the same as a regular blanket you have at home. It is made from flame resistant or flame retardant materials, specifically designed to withstand fires at high temperatures, removing the oxygen from a fire and preventing any further damage. A blanket can also protect you when making a speedy exit from a large fire.

Image of a Fire Blanket

There are various ways of using a fire blanket:

1. Fire blankets are effective in dealing with kitchen fires, such as deep fat fryers. The first thing you must do is turn off the heat source, then open up the blanket so that it covers the whole flame. Placing the blanket over the flame cuts off the oxygen supply, smothering the flames and preventing it from spreading. Leave the blanket like so for at least half an hour, leave the room, close the door and call the fire authorities. Take extreme caution in doing so; always shield yourself from the fire and be careful not to burn your hands.

2. Fire blankets are also of use if you or someone else's clothes catch on fire. Once surrounded in the fire blanket they should drop to the floor and roll around. This action smothers the flames and prevents them from spreading. Remember: Stop, drop and roll.

3. Fire blankets are a great source of protection in a burning room. While they won't protect you for extended periods, if you are able to reach a fire exit then do so after wrapping yourself in the fire blanket and passing through the affected area. This will prevent you suffering from burns while making your exit.

A fire blanket is not always effective

Did you know that a fire blanket is not always effective and you should be aware of the following points to prevent putting yourself in significant danger

1. If the blanket is not large enough to cover the flames, do not attempt to do so. The fire blanket can only smother the flames by cutting off the oxygen supply, so the fire needs to be completely covered. If possible, just turn off the heat supply, leave the room, close the door and call the fire authorities. Remember, they are trained to deal with fires and attempting to extinguish the fire yourself could put yourself in great danger.

2. Never try to throw the blanket over a burning pan. You're sure to miss the fire and the blanket could prove to be useful if your clothes catch fire.

3. While fire blankets are a great accessory for any home or office in case of an event, always make sure you buy a genuine kitemarked product. There are many counterfeit products widely available that claim they comply with a particular standard but if there is no British Standard Kitemark you can be sure it is not going to protect you in the event of a fire.

Shopping online has never been easier, which makes it very easy for counterfeit products to be sold and bought unknowingly by consumers. Not only unethical, this can cause significant danger. There are fire blankets that are being sold online that are not only inefficient at extinguishing a fire, they are actually catching alight themselves. Not only counterproductive but also seriously harmful. This is why you should be savvy about fire blankets - and all fire protection equipment - before shopping online. The video below is from the BBC show 'Fake Britain' where they tested the results of a counterfeit fire blanket bought online.

How Do I Know I Am Buying A Genuine Fire Blanket?

It can be difficult to know whether you are buying a genuine product if you don't know what you're looking for. All equipment should carry the British Standard Kitemark.Some counterfeit products can still carry what appears to be a genuine CE Mark, and some sellers themselves can claim the products come with the 'relevant standards'. The British Standard for fire blankets is BS EN 1869:1997.

Be wary when buying a fire blanket that seems overly underpriced compared to its competition - don't fall into the trap of believing that it's cheaper just because it's being sold online. There is a reason some fire blankets are double the price of others and it comes down to the fact it is a genuine certified product that will actually protect you in the event of a fire.

Buying from a UK manufacturer is a good way to ensure you are buying a genuine product. Products that are manufactured in the UK have to adhere to particular standards, so you know that they have been tested and certified by professionals.

Remember that buying counterfeit safety products can be the same as not having any protection at all - always put your safety first.