Fire safety in the home (accessible version) (2023)

Fire safety in the home (accessible version) (1)

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Did you know…?

You’re around 8 times more likely to die in a fire if you do not have a working smoke alarm in your home.

Around half of home fires are caused by cooking accidents.

Two fires a day are started by candles.

Every six days someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette.

About three fires a day are started by heaters.

Faulty electrics (appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets) cause around 4,000 fires in the home across the country every year.

Protect your home with smoke alarms

The easiest way to protect your home and family from fire is with working smoke alarms.Get them. Install them. Test them. They could save your life.

Choosing your smoke alarms

Fit at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home.

Please be aware that some children may not be woken by smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms are cheap and easy to install.

They are available from DIY stores, electrical shops and most high street supermarkets.

Ten-year sealed battery smoke alarms are the best option. They are slightly more expensive, but you save on the cost of replacing batteries.

There are a variety of different models to choose from. Your local fire and rescue service will be happy to give you advice on which one is best suited for you.

Look out for the British Standard Kitemark and Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) symbols, which shows the alarm is approved and safe.

How to make sure your smoke alarms work

Test your smoke alarms at least monthly.

If any of your smoke alarms have a one year battery, make sure it is changed every year. Only take the battery out when you need to replace it.

Never disconnect or take the batteries out of your alarm if it goes off by mistake.

Standard battery operated alarms are the cheapest option, but the batteries need to be replaced every year.

(Video) How to Practice Fire Safety in the Home

A lot of people forget to test the batteries, so longer life batteries are better.

Mains-powered alarms are powered by your home power supply and have a back-up battery in case of a power cut. They need to be installed by a qualified electrician and, like battery alarms, they do require testing.

Testing smoke alarms tests the smoke sensor as well as the power supply and/or battery.

You can even have linked alarms installed, so that when one alarm detects a fire they all go off together. This is useful if you live in a large house or over several levels.

Strobe light and vibrating pad alarms are available for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Contact the Action on Hearing Loss Information Line on 0808 808 0123 or textphone 0808 808 9000.

Fitting your smoke alarms

The ideal position is on the ceiling, in the middle of a room, and on the hallway and landing, so you can hear an alarm throughout your home.

Don’t put alarms in or near kitchens or bathrooms where smoke or steam can set them off by accident.

If it is difficult for you to fit smoke alarms yourself contact your local fire and rescue service for help. They’ll be happy to install them for you.

Looking after your smoke alarms

Make testing your smoke alarms part of your regular household routine.

Test them by pressing the button until the alarm sounds. If it doesn’t sound, you need to replace the battery.

Vacuum your smoke alarms every six months to remove dust.

If a smoke alarm starts to beep on a regular basis, you need to replace the battery immediately.

If it is a ten year alarm, you will need to replace the whole alarm every ten years.

Other equipment you could consider

Fire blankets are used to put out a fire or wrap a person whose clothes are on fire. They are best kept in the kitchen.

Fire extinguishers can be useful if the fire is very small or blocking your exit. If you choose to use an extinguisher, always read the instructions before use and don’t put yourself in danger.

Heat alarms can detect fires in kitchens where smoke alarms should not be placed.

How to prevent common fires

In the kitchen

Cook safely

Take extra care if you need to leave the kitchen whilst cooking, take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk.

Avoid cooking when under the influence of alcohol.

Avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob. Keep matches and sauce pan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.

Make sure saucepan handles don’t stick out – so they don’t get knocked off the stove.

Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – they can easily catch fire.

Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.

Spark devices are safer than matches or lighters to light gas cookers, because they don’t have a naked flame.

Double check the cooker is off when you’ve finished cooking

Take care with electrics

Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water.

Don’t put anything metal in the microwave.

Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls.

Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order. A build up of fat and grease can ignite a fire.

(Video) Fire Safety Tips to Keep Your Home and Family Safe

Deep fat frying

Take care when cooking with hot oil – it sets alight easily.

Make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil so it doesn’t splash.

If the oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool.

Use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer. They can’t overheat.

What to do if a pan catches fire

Don’t take any risks. Turn off the heat if it’s safe to do so. Never throw water over it.

Don’t tackle the fire yourself.


How to avoid electrical fires

Always check that you use the right fuse to prevent overheating.

Make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it.

Certain appliances, such as washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves, as they are high powered.

Try and keep to one plug per socket.

When charging electrical goods, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and look for the CE mark that indicates chargers comply with European safety standards.

An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so be careful not to overload them to reduce the risk of a fire.

Appliances use different amounts of power – a television may use a 3amp plug and a vacuum cleaner a 5amp plug for example. Know the limit!

Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order to prevent them triggering a fire.

Keep your eyes peeled for signs of dangerous or loose wiring such as scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reasons, or flickering lights.

Check and replace any old cables and leads, especially if they are hidden from view - behind furniture or under carpets and mats.

Unplugging appliances helps reduce the risk of fire.

Unplug appliances when you’re not using them or when you go to bed.


Always ensure that your furniture has the fire-resistant permanent label.

Portable heaters

Try to secure heaters up against a wall to stop them falling over.

Keep them clear from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.

Using an electric blanket

Store electric blankets flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring.

Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use.

Try not to buy second hand blankets and check regularly for wear and tear.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


Stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully. Put them out. Right out!

Never smoke in bed.

Smoke outdoors and put cigarettes right out - this is safer than smoking indoors.

(Video) Fire Prevention at Home

Use a proper ashtray – never a wastepaper basket.

Make sure your ashtray can’t tip over and is made of a material that won’t burn.

Don’t leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe lying around. They can easily fall over and start a fire.

The best way to reduce the risk is to make an attempt to quit, using NHS support if you need it. If you do not want to quit, consider vaping.

Take extra care if you smoke when you’re tired, taking prescription drugs, or if you’ve been drinking. You might fall asleep and set your bed or sofa on fire.

Unplug e-cigarettes when fully charged and ensure you are using the correct charger.

Never smoke illegally manufactured cigarettes.


Make sure candles are secured in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire – like curtains.

Put candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they’re put out completely at night.

Children shouldn’t be left alone with lit candles.

Consider using LED or battery-operated candles.

Keep pets away from lit candles.

Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.

Only buy child resistant lighters and match boxes.

Plan a safe escape

Fitting smoke alarms is the first crucial step to protecting yourself from fire. But what would you do if one went off during the night?

This section will help you make a plan ready for an emergency.

Plan an escape route and make sure everyone knows how to escape.

Make sure exits are kept clear.

The best route is the normal way in and out of your home.

Think of a second route in case the first one is blocked.

Take a few minutes to practise your escape plan.

Review your plan if the layout of your home changes.

Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.

What to do if there is a fire

Don’t tackle fires yourself. Leave it to the professionals.

Keep calm and act quickly, get everyone out as soon as possible.

Don’t waste time investigating what’s happened or rescuing valuables.

If there’s smoke, keep low where the air is clearer.

(Video) Safety Training Series: Safety in the Home

Before you open a door check if it’s warm. If it is, don’t open it – fire is on the other side.

Call 999 as soon as you’re clear of the building. 999 calls are free.

What to do if your escape is blocked

If you can’t get out, get everyone into one room, ideally with a window and a phone.

Put bedding around the bottom of the door to block out the smoke.

Call 999 then open the window and shout “HELP FIRE”.

If you’re on the ground or first floor, you may be able to escape through a window.

Use bedding to cushion your fall and lower yourself down carefully. Don’t jump.

If you can’t open the window break the glass in the bottom corner. Make jagged edges safe with a towel or blanket.

What to do if your clothes catch fire

Don’t run around, you’ll make the flames worse.

Lie down and roll around. It makes it harder for the fire to spread.

Smother the flames with a heavy material, like a coat or blanket.

Remember, Stop, Drop and Roll!

How to escape from a high level building

Make sure you, and everyone in your home, know the fire plan for your building and where fire alarms and fire exits are. As with all buildings, you should plan and practise an escape route.

Avoid using lifts and balconies if there is a fire.

It is easy to get confused in smoke, so count how many doors you need to go through to reach the stairs.

Check that your way out is clear and that there is nothing in the corridors or stairways that could catch fire – like boxes or rubbish.

Make sure doors to stairways are not locked.

You should still get smoke alarms for your own home, even if there is a warning system in the block.

Make a bedtime check

You are more at risk from a fire when asleep. So it’s a good idea to check your home before you go to bed.

Check list

Close inside doors at night to stop a fire from spreading.

Turn off and unplug electrical appliances unless they are designed to be left on – like your freezer.

Check your cooker is turned off.

Don’t run appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers overnight.

Turn heaters off and put up fireguards.

Put candles and cigarettes out properly.

Make sure exits are kept clear.

Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.


What are examples of basic home fire safety? ›

Only use one appliance per power point and switch off at the power point when not in use. Always extinguish candles or any other open flames before going to bed. Never leave candles or any other open flames unattended. Always handle candles or any other open flame with care.

How do you promote fire safety in a care home? ›

Fire Evacuation
  1. Keep fire routes and exits free from obstructions at all times. ...
  2. Ensure signage and emergency lighting is clear and functional. ...
  3. Make sure there are plenty of working fire extinguishers throughout the premises. ...
  4. Create Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs). ...
  5. Carry out fire drills at least once a year.
1 Aug 2018

What is a home fire safety visit? ›

What is a home fire safety visit? We believe that successful firefighting starts with prevention. So we have introduced a service where we can visit you, a loved one, or someone you care for at home to provide personalised advice about fire safety.

What is the new fire safety bill? ›

The Fire Safety Act clarifies the scope of the Fire Safety Order to make clear it applies to the structure, external walls (including cladding and balconies) and individual flat entrance doors between domestic premises and the common parts of a multi-occupied residential building.

What are the 5 basic fire safety practice? ›

5 Fire Safety Tips
  • Install Fire Alarms. Smoke alarms are the best early fire warning system. ...
  • Plan a Fire Escape Route. In the event of a fire, always have an escape plan in advance. ...
  • Keep Flames and Other Heating Equipment in Check. ...
  • Have a Fire Extinguisher. ...
  • Utilize the Cliche Stop, Drop and Roll.
4 Nov 2021

What are 5 fire safety rules? ›

Assess fire safety measures in your built environment with the help of this checklist:
  • Provide adequate means of escape. ...
  • Outline clear pathways to exit doors. ...
  • Install smoke detection systems. ...
  • Maintain smoke suppression systems. ...
  • Conduct regular fire drills. ...
  • Use flame-retardant materials in interiors.
4 Jan 2009

What is basic home safety? ›

Safety Tips for Any Home

Make sure your house number is visible from the street. Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor. Change batteries twice a year when you change your clocks for daylight savings time. Eliminate clutter. Keep stairways and walkways clear of tripping hazards.

What are 5 safety items that need to be found in the home? ›

5 Safety Items You Need to Have in Your Home
  • Smoke Detector/Alarm.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector.
  • Fire Extinguisher.
  • A Plan.
  • Fully Stocked First Aid Kit.
17 Jan 2018

What are 4 things a fire safety plan should include? ›

At a minimum, your fire prevention plan must include: A list of all major fire hazards, proper handling and storage procedures for hazardous materials, potential ignition sources and their control, and the type of fire protection equipment necessary to control each major hazard.

What are the 4 main principles of fire safety? ›

Over time we have learned fundamental fire safety principles for preventing fire events and managing their impact (i.e. the Common Principles: Prevention, Detection and Communication, Occupant Protection, Containment and Extinguishment) that can be consistently applied internationally.


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