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Fire Kills: How Safe is Your Home?

Official statistics show hundreds of people will lose their lives due to serious fires in their homes every year in the United Kingdom - especially during the Christmas holidays.

Because one simple accident can start a raging inferno, this guide on making your home safe from fire highlights the key safety areas you should consider.

How to Make Your Home Safe from Fire?

  • Smoke alarms in the home – when positioned correctly and working properly – save lives.
  • Install smoke alarms on all floors (including the bedrooms) but not in the bathroom or kitchen.
  • Never paint over a smoke detector once fitted.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least one time every month.
  • Ensure family members understand a predetermined home fire escape plan explaining how to leave if the alarm goes off.

Note: Installing and testing smoke alarms is only one way of making your home safe from fire. Even so, failing to have them means you will be about eight (8) times more likely to die if a fire breaks out in your property.

In case you need a reminder:

  • Cooking fires remain as the primary cause of major fires in the home.
  • Faulty electrics or electrical appliances contribute to around four thousand (4,000) home fires every year.
  • Someone dies in a fire that was started by smoking materials (e.g. cigarettes) every six (6) days.
  • Wax candles are the main cause for starting two accidental dwelling fires each day.

How to Reduce the Risk of House Fires

  • Always stay in the kitchen as much as possible when cooking (do not pour water onto hot fat) and never let children cook or prepare food unattended.
  • Avoid using too many plugs in one socket.
  • Clean electrical appliances – in good working order – are less likely to trigger a spark.
  • Keep candles well away from things that can burn and never let them burn in an unattended room.
  • Throw away finished cigarettes properly and use extra caution when putting them out on a balcony.
  • The most common time for fires to start is night-time. Thus, always carry out some basic checks before turning off electrical appliances and going to bed.

Important: Another section contains barbecue fire safety advice and safe cooking tips for outdoor charcoal grills (e.g. when camping or caravanning).

Fire Safety in Rented Accommodation

The Home Office has extra advice for anyone who rents their home and has concerns about fire safety in shared or rented accommodation. But, as a general rule:

  • Landlords must have smoke alarms installed on every floor of any properties that they are letting as living accommodation.
  • Tenants are responsible for ensuring the smoke alarms are maintained (e.g. by testing them each month).
People Most Vulnerable from a House Fire

Individuals with hearing, mobility, or sight issues are often at a greater risk of a raging fire in the home. You can read more about fire safety for disabled people on the GOV.UK website.

Note: The local fire and rescue service (e.g. National Fire Chiefs Council) may offer additional advice and carry out a home fire safety visit.

If you are caring for an elderly or disabled person:

  • Check their devices are fitted in the appropriate locations.
  • You could also offer to make sure their smoke alarms are working properly.

Fire Safety in High Rise Flats

  • Landlords (or the managing agents) must take the proper steps to prevent a fire from breaking out in the communal areas and ensure escape routes are protected. They also have the responsibility of informing you of the steps to take if a fire breaks out. It is important that everyone in the household is aware of, and understands, the appropriate fire safety procedures.
  • Occupiers should also take steps to prevent a fire from starting in the first place. Hence, make sure there are enough working smoke alarms in the home.
  • Make sure the common areas are clear and there are no obstructions or debris in the escape routes.
  • You should notify the landlord or managing agent if you would need assistance to evacuate the building or you would be unable to hear a communal fire alarm.

Note: The Home Office produces a collection of fire safety guidance documents that cover situations inside and outside of residential properties.

Related Help Guides

Note: This short video presented by Fireman Sam explains more about the importance of installing and checking smoke alarms on a regular basis.

Fire Kills: How to Make Your Home Safe from Fire?