Churchill magazine

Tips to prevent a fire in your home

Updated on: 24 September 2020

A fire in an oven.

A fire in your home is a worst fear for many people, but there are things you can do to keep your and your family safe.

Smoke alarms

According to the UK government, you’re four times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a smoke alarm that works. They really are that important.

Here are some smoke alarm tips.

  • You should have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home.

  • Smoke alarms are available from DIY stores, electrical shops and supermarkets.

  • Your best option is a ten-year sealed battery smoke alarm. They cost a little more, but you won’t have to replace the battery so often.

  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month.

Safe cooking

Around half of fires in the home are caused by cooking accidents, and most can be avoided by taking extra care. The government’s tips to avoid cooking fires include:

  • When leaving the kitchen, take pans off the heat or turn them down.

  • Don’t cook if you’re drinking alcohol.

  • Don’t leave children in the kitchen alone when food is cooking on the hob, and make sure pan handles are out of reach and don’t stick out - so they don’t get knocked off.

  • Keep flammable items such as tea towels and loose clothing away from the hob.

  • Make sure the cooker is off when you’ve finished cooking.

  • Cooking with hot oil is particularly dangerous. Always make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil so it doesn't bubble up and splash. If the oil starts to smoke it’s too hot, so turn off the heat and leave it to cool.

Electrics

Faulty appliances, bad wiring and overloaded sockets cause around 6,000 fires in the home each year, states a UK government fire safety guide. Here’s what you can do to avoid electrical fires.

  • Always check that a suitable fuse is being used. This will prevent the plug from overheating.

  • All appliances should have a British or European safety mark.

  • Some high powered appliances, such as washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves.

  • Make sure any charges have the CE mark, meaning they meet European safety standards.

  • Be alert to signs of dangerous wiring, which includes scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow, circuit-breakers that trip and flickering lights.

  • Unplug appliances that don’t need to be on, especially when you go out or go to bed.

Smoking

Their very nature means that smoking cigarettes in your home can be dangerous. This means you must take extra care to make sure no accidents happen.

  • Stub out cigarettes and dispose of them carefully.

  • Never smoke in bed.

  • Use a proper ashtray that won’t burn, and make sure it can’t tip over.

  • Don’t leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe lying around as they could start a fire.

  • Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach, and if possible buy child resistant lighters and match boxes.

Candles

Candles are often used to create a relaxing mood in a home, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore their dangers.

  • Make sure candles are in a proper holder and kept away from flammable items.

  • Put candles out when you leave the room.

  • Never leave candles burning when you go to bed.

  • Don’t leave children alone with lit candles.

  • Be alert to pets around lit candles.

Have a plan

Knowing what to do if a fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night will help make sure you get out safely.

  • Plan an escape route and make sure everyone in your home knows it. A few practise runs might help.

  • Be sure to keep exits clear.

  • Have a second exit route in case the first is blocked.

  • Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.

Check out the government’s guide to fire safety in the home for more advice.

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