As we get a little bit of sunshine back in the UK, following weeks of borderline torrential rain, experts warn against a surprising fire hazard - the placement of your magnifying mirror. Why, you might ask? Because keeping it in certain areas might lead to some unfortunate events, from leaving burn marks on your window frame to setting your whole house on fire.
According to our experts, these occurrences are not as rare as one might think. So be safe and follow the below advice on how to prevent a home fire from ever happening. You can thank us later.
Mirror placement fire warning
Fire hazards are a serious thing. And yet, there are some that wouldn’t even cross our minds as one, like garden furniture’s fire risk or the danger in placing a magnifying mirror on a windowsill. And turns out we’re not alone in this. This week, Jasmine Gurney, known on Instagram as @_ohabode for her DIY tutorials, posted a Reel in which she warns against leaving a magnifying mirror on your windowsill. As she herself made that mistake and the sun reflecting off the mirror burnt her PVC window frame.
A photo posted by on
‘The other night, I walked into my bedroom just before bed, and noticed a burning smell. Thinking nothing of it, I assumed it was someone making a bonfire outside,’ Jasmine wrote in her Instagram post. I shrugged it off and got into bed. The next morning, when I was looking out of the window at the lovely pink sky, I noticed a black smudge on the window frame. I looked closer, rubbed it, smelt it… oh… that’s burnt plastic! My window had caught fire!’
‘I’d just moved my magnifying mirror out of the way, and it had been facing the window pane. So, I thought I’d share this life lesson, and I’m thankful that it wasn’t so so much worse, had the mirror been facing a different angle, perhaps the sun would have bounced elsewhere in the room, and caught fire to upholstery, or the carpet, or the bed and my story today would be different,’ she concludes.
Sean Mac Anbhaird, managing director of Core Sash Windows breaks this down by bringing it back to child's play. ‘The same principle is at play when children use magnifying glasses to focus sunlight onto pieces of paper and create a small flame. The concentrated light energy can generate enough heat to ignite materials.’
But experts warn that this danger doesn’t apply solely to magnifying mirrors. There are other objects you need to look out for.
‘It’s really important that reflective items such as mirrors, crystals and glass ornaments are kept out of direct sunlight and away from the sunny sills,’ warns Pam Oparaocha, London Fire Brigade's deputy assistant commissioner for fire safety. ‘Glass bottles and other clear materials can also start fires if left in direct sunlight.’
When is the risk of fire caused by sunlight reflection the highest?
This kind of accident can happen anytime but there are definitely times one should be more alert in order to keep your home safe.
‘They can happen all year around, but particularly in the summer when the sun is stronger,’ Pam says.
Jo Trotman, marketing manager at window manufacturer The Residence Collection, adds that also particular times of the day are riskier than others. ‘These accidents tend to occur in rooms with south facing windows and when the sun is lower in the sky, so it is especially dangerous when the sun is rising or setting.’
The bottom line is if you smell burning or smoke don’t just shrug it off and go to bed. Check where the smell is coming from and for any potential fire hazards. And as a preventative measure, keep your magnifying mirrors, crystals and clear glass objects away from the windowsill to avoid setting your window or curtains and ultimately your whole house on fire.
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Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home and interiors. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.
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