Fire Safety

Fire Safety in the Home

Every year the fire brigade is called out to over 60,000 fires in the home.

500 people die in these fires and over 10,000 are injured. If a fire occurs in your home, your chances of survival will depend on how quickly and safely you are able to get out.

(see also Babysitting, First Aid, Garden Safety, Home Safety, Smoking)


500 people die in these fires and over 10,000 are injured. If a fire occurs in your home, your chances of survival will depend on how quickly and safely you are able to get out.

Carbon monoxide is the biggest cause of household poisoning deaths in the UK.

Guidelines to help Prevent Fires

• Instruct children about the dangers of playing with fire

• A qualified technician should check the heating system, vents, chimney and flue annually

• Cars should not be left running in an attached garage

• Check the boiler regularly for cracked or loose fittings

• Vents and chimneys are routinely examined for improper connections, visible rust or stains

• Kitchen towels and oven gloves should be kept away from the cooker

• Kitchen curtains should not be allowed to blow near a fire’s open flame when the window is left open. Blinds are safer


Chip Pans and Deep Fat Fryers

These are one of the most common causes of fires.


• Never fill a pan more than one third full of fat or oil

• Never leave the pan unattended when the heat is switched on

• Never put food in the pan if the oil begins to smoke. Turn off the heat and leave the oil to cool.

Dry the food before it goes into the pan and test the temperature of the oil by putting in a small piece of bread. If the bread crisps quickly the oil is ready.

If the pan catches fire:

• Do not move it

• Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so

• Cover the pan with a damp cloth and leave it to cool for 30 minutes.

Fire blankets are the first line of attack against fat pan fires and should bear the British Standard number BS 6575. Keep the fire blanket where you can easily reach it if a pan catches fire. Never throw water on to a fat fire.

Open Fires

• These should always have a fireguard round them complying with British Standards.

• The guard should be placed at least 30cm from the fire or grill.

• Never rest clothes or newspapers on the guard.

Portable heaters

• Do not sit closer than three feet to a heater.

• Never put a heater within 1m of clothes or furnishings.

• Turn off the heater before bedtime and unplug when not in use

Smoker’s materials

• Never leave a cigarette or pipe unattended.

• Never smoke in a chair if you think you may doze off in it.

• Always keep matches and lighters well out of the reach of children.

• If you smoke, keep plenty of ashtrays around the house.

Electrical Equipment

• Check cables for fraying and do not place them under carpet as this damages them.

• Do not overload sockets.

• Unplug anything that is not meant to stay on.

• Shorten flexes or fit coiled ones.

• Have your wiring checked if your home is more than 20 years old.

• Get your wiring circuit tested every five years.

• Foam furniture made before 1988 may burn very easily and the fumes can kill you.

• If any piece of electrical equipment cuts out continually or gives off a strange smell or if the plug feels warm switch it off immediately and have it checked.

Electric Blankets

• Read the maker’s instructions before using. These will tell you whether your blanket is designed to be used on top of you or underneath, and whether it can be left on all night.

• When you are not using your blanket, store it without creasing.

• Have it serviced at least every three years.

Bedtime Routine

• Many fires start at night. Make sure you have a fire safety routine at bedtime to help keep everyone safe.

• Switch off and unplug all electrical appliances not designed to stay on and never run washing machines or tumbles driers when you are asleep

• Make sure no cigarettes or pipes are still burning.

• Before emptying ashtrays, make sure the contents are cold.

• Switch off portable heaters.

• Close the doors of all rooms.

• Never smoke in bed.

Get a smoke alarm. This can give you a few precious minutes to get the family out of the house safely. Smoke alarms cost about a couple of pounds and are easy to install. They are widely available from DIY and electrical stores and some supermarkets. Chose an alarm that meets British Standard BS5446 Part 1 and carries the Kitemark. Read the instructions with regard to batteries and take advice about where to fit smoke detectors. It is best to have one on each level of the house – hallway, landing, side passage.. They are better fitted on ceilings than walls. Push the test button regularly to check the alarm is working. Replace the battery when necessary, and in any event, once a year. Never remove the batteries or disable a smoke alarm. If smoke from cooking or bathrooms steam causes nuisance alarms, use vent fans. Do not fit a smoke detector in a kitchen.

Install and maintain Carbon Monoxide Alarms. Carbon Monoxide is a colourless, tasteless, odourless gas that is produced whenever a fossil fuel is not burned efficiently. It can be produced from inadequately maintained or badly fitted domestic heating appliances. It cannot escape from your home if the flue or chimney has a blockage. Consumer Safety groups in the UK recommend every residence with fuel-burning appliances be equipped with at least one CO alarm that carries the BSI Kitemark or the American equivalent UL approved. Test alarms weekly by pressing the test/reset button. Carbon Monoxide poisoning symptoms often mimic many other common ailments that are easily misdiagnosed by the doctor. Look out for throbbing headaches, tiredness, muscle pain, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting. Those most at risk of exposure are those who spend more time indoors such as young mothers at home with their children. A qualified installer should service all fuel burning appliances every twelve months.

Plan your escape route in advance in case you have to get out in dark or difficult conditions. Everyone in the house should be award of the route. Plan alternate routes in case one is blocked by fire.

Remember smoke and fumes kill. You will only have a short time to get out. Use it wisely and try not to panic.

Smoke is lighter than air so there may be breathable air near the floor of a smoke filled room.

Each bedroom above the ground floor should have a fire escape ladder. If stairways are blocked by fire, windows may be the only exit to safety. Store it under the bed where it will be easy to reach if the room fills with smoke.

Try to close the door of the room where the fire is and close all doors behind you as you leave. Before opening a closed door, feel it with the back of your hand. If it is warm there will be fire behind it. Get everyone out as quickly as possible and do not stop to pick up valuables or possessions. Parents should check in the understairs cupboard in case a child has hidden there.

If anyone gets trapped shout to get attention and look for a way out away from the fire. Do not go through the fire, you do not know what is the other side.

Telephone the fire brigade on 999 from a neighbour’s house and never go back into the house. 

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