There were 325 fatal fires in Great Britain in 2014/15.

This was the opening line of the last fire safety seminar we attended. Not to scare people, but to make them aware of the risks that fire poses and the importance of fire safety in the home. According to the home office:

  • There was 155,000 fire related incidents, of this 31,300 (20%) were dwelling fires
  • 41% of all fire related fatalities in England involved people aged 65 or above.
  • For every 1 million people in England there was 4.8 fire related deaths
  • 46% of all fires in England took place between 16:00 and 22:00
  • Smokers materials (cigarettes, cigars or pipes) caused 36% of fatalities in accidental dwelling fires
  • Cooking appliances caused 50% of accidental dwelling fires

Based on these figures you are 48 times more likely to die in a fire related incident than winning the lottery. Don’t gamble with your life because the odds aren’t in your favour. As it’s Home Safety Week 2019, we have compiled over 50 key tips to keep you safe from fire in your home.

Preventing Fires – The main causes of fire in the Home

Cooking appliances

Are the number 1 cause of accidental fires in dwellings. Here’s our tips on how to prevent them:

  • Fit a heat alarm! This will warn you of a fire if you are not in the room. Test it monthly to ensure its in good working order
  • Don’t leave a cooking appliance unattended if you don’t have to.
  • Keep your cooker clean (Cooker hood, oven and hob!). A build-up of grease is a build-up of fuel and is susceptible to ignition
  • Don’t cook if you’ve been drinking (get a takeaway like everyone else!), taking medication or even if you’re overly tired.
  • Loose clothing is dangerous, especially round the open flame of a gas fire! There’s no need to wear a skin tight lycra suit, just take care when reaching over hobs and keep other loose materials such as tea towels and cloths at a safe distance
  • Ensure that all cooking appliances are turned off after use
  • Never put metal in a microwave
  • When deep fat frying, take extra care with oil, never fill more than a third of the way and if the oil is smoking it’s too hot. Turn it off and leave it to cool.

If a pan catches fire:

  • Don’t attempt to tackle it yourself and don’t throw water over it as this may enhance and spread the fire
  • Turn the heat/power of if possible and leave the room, closing the door behind you. Warn others on the property and call the fire brigade when it is safe to do so.

Smoking

Not only is smoking a danger to your long term health but it can also pose fire safety risks. As the leading cause of deaths on private properties, here’s or tips to stay safe:

  • Never smoke in bed
  • If possible, don’t smoke on sofas or armchairs (especially when tired or intoxicated)
  • Smoke outside whenever possible
  • If a cigarette is lit, don’t leave it unattended
  • Use appropriate ashtrays and never balance cigarettes on the edge
  • When emptying ashtrays ensure all buds have been put out (soak them) and empty into bins outside whenever possible
  • Never smoke if you are using medical oxygen
  • Keep lighters, matches and lit smoking materials out of children’s reach

Candles, Open Fires and Portable Heaters

Open flames present a unique danger in the home. Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Ensure candles have been put out before leaving the room or going to bed
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets
  • Keep candles in heat resistant holders and away from flammable objects such as furniture, curtains and carpets
  • When using open fires make sure to use a fire guard to protect against sparks and loose logs/coals
  • Ensure flues are clean. Make sure chimneys are swept by a certified chimney sweep (once a year for coal, twice for log burning)
  • Ensure fuels are safely stored away from heat sources
  • When going to bed ensure fires are guarded and under control (out if possible)
  • Keep portable heaters away from flammable materials such as furniture and curtains (never use them to dry clothing)
  • Ensure heaters are secured or wall mounted to stop them toppling
  • Keep a safe distance from heaters
  • When changing gas cylinders do it outside where possible, otherwise open windows and doors

Electrical Items

  • Use electrical items carefully and store them properly when they are not in use
  • Don’t overload sockets or use double adapters (know the limit when it comes to extension cables)
  • If electrical cables or plugs are damaged, worn or frayed, contact an electrician
  • Make sure appliances are British or European safety marked
  • Empty fluff from tumble driers at regular intervals
  • Where possible don’t use electric blankets

 

Planning for the event of a fire

Alarms

Smoke alarms are life savers. They are easy to install and cheap to buy, these items are a must have for fire safety.

  • Fit at least 1 smoke alarm on every level of the house and a heat detector in the kitchen. We recommend a smoke detector in the living room, a heat in the kitchen, a smoke detector in your entrance hallway and a smoke detector on your landing
  • Keep smoke alarms away from bathrooms and kitchens as these may lead to false alarms
  • Change batteries on a regular basis
  • Test alarms weekly (your neighbours won’t mind!)
  • Never disconnect your alarms
  • If possible fit interlinked alarms (wired or radio linked). This means all alarms will go off together giving you the best chance of hearing it.
  • Where applicable fit Carbon Monoxide alarms

Planning your Escape

It’s 3am and your alarm is sounding. Your family is sleeping, what’s your plan?

  • The best escape route is your usual entrance, however, plan for a second escape route in case the first is blocked
  • Practice your escape regularly, especially with young children
  • Ensure escape routes are kept clear at all times
  • If a fire occurs warn others and begin your escape closing doors behind you (to contain the fire)
  • Only when you are in a safe place or you are unable to escape phone the fire service

Before you go to bed:

  • Ensure spark guards are in front of open fires
  • Switch off and unplug all electrical items. Do not leave the television, radio or computer on standby.
  • Plug out phone chargers
  • If your exit requires a key for opening, ensure the key is in the lock before going to bed
  • Ensure all escape routes are clear
  • Close all doors (especially from the kitchen and living room). Check out the below ‘close before you doze’ campaign video highlighting the importance of closing doors in the home.

Fires can ruin lives, even if you’re lucky enough to escape with your life, others may not be. The best line of defence for fire safety is fire prevention. Identify risks and eliminate hazards that may cause a fire to start or spread and despite your best efforts, plan for when a fire starts.