Protecting yourself against fire
Did you know?
- you’re four times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a smoke alarm that works
- 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 two fires a day are caused by heaters
- faulty electrics (appliances, wiring, and overloaded sockets) cause around 6000 fires in the home across the country every year.
The easiest way to protect your home and family from fire is by fitting a smoke alarm. It is vital to fit and test a smoke alarm, but don’t be tempted to do it yourself if you’re unsure – it’s a good idea to ask family or friends to help you test it.
- fit at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home.
- smoke alarms are cheap and easy to install.
- They are available from DIY stores, electrical shops, and most high street supermarkets.
- 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
- 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.
Prevent a fire in your kitchen
- take pans off the heat or turning them down if you must leave the kitchen whilst cooking
- do not use pans for deep fat frying. Use a deep fat fryer instead
- making sure saucepan handles don’t stick out, so they don’t get knocked off the stove.
- make sure you turn the cooker off when you've finished
- keep the oven, hob, and grill clean and in good working order: a build-up of fat and grease can ignite a fire
- avoid cooking when under the influence of alcohol
- take care if you're wearing loose clothing that can easily catch fire
- keep tea towels and cloths away from the hob.
- avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob
- keep matches and saucepan handles out of the reach of children
- use spark devices ,which are safer than matches or lighters, to light gas cookers because they don’t have a naked flame.
Avoid an electrical fire
- check that you use the right fuse to prevent overheating
- unplug appliances
- to help reduce the risk of fire
- when you’re not using them or when you go to bed
- keep to one plug per socket
- 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 your appliances
- make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it
- check and replace any old cables and leads, especially if they are hidden from view behind furniture or under carpets and mats.
Certain appliances, such as washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves, as they are high powered.
When charging electrical goods, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and look for the CE mark that indicates chargers comply with European safety standards.
Dealing with naked flames
To help avoid a fire, make sure your candle holder or ashtray can’t tip over, and:
- leave burning candles or lit cigarettes unattended
- leave matches or lighters where children can find them
- smoke in bed – take extra care smoking when you’re tired or on prescription drugs or drinking as you might fall asleep and set your surroundings on fire.
If you smoke
- always stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully: use a proper ashtray
- consider buying child resistant lighters and matches.
Make a fire escape plan
Be prepared by making a plan of escape:
- plan an escape route and make sure everyone knows how to escape
- make sure exits are kept clear
- identify the best route in and out of your home; this is usually the normal way
- think of a second escape 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.