The smoke and mirrors of reflections on a stairway can be lethal

Ever walked into a room which appears huge, only to realise that there are walls of mirrors which have given the illusion of space and light? The dead giveaway is that your own reflection is repeated in all directions, a myriad of you disappears into infinity. Mirrors can amaze and entertain on deception. A House of Mirrors at a fun fair amuses us as distorted images stare back at us, convex and concave short bodies under tall heads, long feet, grimaces which make us all chortle and marvel at the comic illusions of us.

For most people though a mirror is a tool to see a true reflection, if only in the opposite, and light up surroundings, and the most likely place to find a mirror is in a dwelling. A mirror in the bathroom is the most likely, followed by the bedroom. The practical use being to use it in assistance with grooming and make-up. The bedroom may have two mirrors, one a full-length to check over clothes and a further reflection so the back can be inspected as well as the front.

In a drawing room a mirror above a mantlepiece can be an addition to make the room appear a lot larger and brighter with reflected light. In a dance hall a mirrored ball can be suspended from the ceiling so that when the light hits it, thousands of sparkling diamonds can be reflected from it as it spins slowly and shines onto the dancers below creating a complex pattern of changing light.

When thinking about a fire escape route though, the placement of a mirror needs careful consideration. A staircase may be difficult to navigate in the best of times, but with the mirrored illusion of up when down or confusion as to reflection a person coming or going or where a fire is most dangerous, and can mean a panic in an emergency evacuation. A fire escape should be a clear pathway to a safe place and any sort of mirror should never be placed on a stairway or to confuse a fire exit or location of fire. Smoke with mirrors can be a lethal combination, no illusion.

Did you know that we offer bespoke fire risk assessments for your property? For all your fire safety needs including fire risk assessments, installation and maintenance of fire alarms, smoke alarms, extinguishers, fire blankets and fire safety training for your staff contact us at Bath & West Fire & Safety.

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