Home Fire Safety

Every year in the UK there are over 250 deaths and 7,500 casualties as a result of fires occurring in houses. Many of these fires could have been prevented by taking simple precautions. This part of our website will help you to identify the main causes of fire and adopt the best method of detecting, extinguishing and escaping a fire should one occur. The Fire and Rescue Service will visit your home free of charge to advise on any aspect of fire safety in your home. In many cases, they will also provide free smoke detectors. We hope you find this information useful.



  • Kitchen


    Be careful with saucepans always ensure that saucepan handles don’t stick out.

    Make sure small children can’t reach saucepans.


    Always make sure you follow manufacturer’s guidelines before using.

    Only use the microwaves own cord, never add an extension cord to the microwave. Microwave ovens should use a separate 110 grounded circuit.

    Make sure that you don’t use plastic wrappers in the microwave as they may melt.

    Chip Pans

    Make sure that you never fill your pan with more than a third with fat or oil. Always dry your food before placing in as any liquids could cause it to spit. Never leave your pan unattended when switched on. If your pan begins to smoke or the fat/oil gets to hot just switch off and leave to cool down. If it does catch fire never throw water on it, use a fire blanket or a damp cloth to smother the flames.


    Toaster may seem like a harmless piece of kitchen equipment but they need to be used correctly as with any electrical appliance. Always make sure that the crumb trays are kept emptied as any debris can cause the toaster to catch fire. Never place the toaster on a hob or near the sink, never immerse the appliance in water.

    Also never place the toaster on its side it is not a grill and should only be used a per manufacturers instructions.


    • To avoid any build up of fat clean your grill pan after every use.
    • When in use do not leave unattended
    • Always check that your smoke alarm is in working order
    • Never hang tea towels or cloths anywhere near the grill or hob.
    • Never use if feeling tired or under the influence of alcohol.
    • If for any reason the grill catches fire – get everyone out of your home and call 999
  • Washing Machines & Dishwashers

    We would like to remind you to follow some simple safety advice when using washing machines or dishwashers.

    • Don’t leave the washing machine or dishwasher running overnight or while you are out.
    • They are a fire risk because of their high wattage, friction and motors.
  • Tumble Dryers
    • Clean the lint tray after every load to prevent build up.
    • Make sure that all vents are not covered & only vent the warm air to the outside of the building.
    • Check that all pipes including vent pipe are free from kinks.
    • Never leave dryer running through the night unattended as the motors etc can overheat.
    • Make sure you use as per manufacturers instructions .
    • Do not put rags or materials into your tumble dryer if they have been used to soak up flammable liquids.
  • Electrical Safety

    Millions of people experience fires in their kitchens due to grime.

    • Half of all house fires are started by kitchen appliances.
    • A third of people can’t remember the last time their oven or the area behind their fridge was cleaned, one in seven admit to regularly blocking vents with objects, and one in ten even confess to leaving flammable items next to heat sources.
    • A fifth of people confess to putting themselves at risk because they are just too lazy to clean as well as they should.
    • Never allow water near sockets or use with wet hands


    • Before going to bed make sure that you turn off portable heaters.
    • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Make sure that if using a portable heater you do so in a well ventilated room.
    • Only use if you have a permanent safety guard and make sure it is kept clean and well maintained.
    • Whilst the heater is switched on never move.
    • Clothing may ignite so never stand or sit too close or dry cloths over the heater.
    • Be careful with bedding and curtains never place too close to furniture.
    • Only place heaters in a safe place where that will not be knocked over.
    • Don’t leave unattended especially where animals or young children are.

    Electrical Wiring

    Always check wiring look out for signs of wear or loose wiring, scorch marks. Make sure that plugs and sockets do not get hot . Circuit breaker that seem to trip for no reason or flickering lights can be a sign of an electrical problem. Check and replace old cables and leads, especially if they are hidden from view – e.g. under carpets or behind furniture.

    Plug Overload

    Always check the maximum current rating on any extension cable by plugging in appliances which overload the cable it can cause the wall socket to overheat and possibly cause a fire. Only use one plug per socket and when buying an electrical appliance make sure that it has British or European safety mark on it. Try to unplug when not in use or when going to bed.

  • Smoking

    Don’t smoke in a soft chair or sofa if you think you may fall asleep & never smoke in bed. Don’t leave a lit cigarette, cigar, or pipe lying around. Stub cigarettes out properly and always dispose of them carefully. Make sure smoking materials are cold before emptying ashtrays – preferably wet them before throwing them into a bin.


    Only purchase an e-cigarette from a reputable source.

    Never mix components from different e-cigarettes and only use the charger provided.

    Whilst charging never leave unattended or for long periods of time as it can overheat.

  • Candles

    To celebrate or create a special atmosphere candles are used often in our homes. Many people forget that this is bringing fire into the home and should be treated with great care. Never leave candles unattended and make sure that they are kept on a heat resistant surface preferably in a candle holder. Do not place anywhere near curtains or any fabrics which could catch fire this also goes for clothing and hair. Always make sure that the candles are extinguished when not in use.

  • Lights

    Fairy lights are a beautiful way to brightened up your Christmas tree but can also be a hazard so make sure that you check that the right fuses are in use so as not to overload. If there is any blown bulbs replace before use.

    Always turn off fairy lights before going out or going to bed.

    Never overload the sockets.

  • Decorations

    Be careful using any decorations made of light tissue paper or cardboard as these burn easily.

    Never place decorations to close to bulbs on the tree as these can get hot.

    Never place decorations on lights or heaters.

    Don’t put them immediately above or around the fireplace.

    Keep them away from candles.

  • Trees

    If you decide to go for an artificial tree check for the fire retardant label. Only buy a tree that clearly states it is certified fire retardant.

    Make sure that your tree does not block any exits or ways out as a Christmas tree can pose another potential fire hazard.

    Do not place your tree near any other heat source such as radiators or your fireplace.

  • Use your electric blanket safely
    • Make sure you follow the manufacturers instructions before using.
    • Only use the blanket for its intended usage for example never use an electric underblanket as an electric overblanket, and vice versa.
    • Make sure that to prevent slipping and creasing electric underblankets are secured to the bed or mattress as this could cause them damage.
    • Make sure that your disconnect and switch off the blanket at night when in bed unless it has a thermostatic control for safe all night usage.
    • If your blanket gets wet do not use and never switch it on to dry.
  • Electric Blanket danger signs
    • Fraying fabric.
    • Scorch marks.
    • Exposed elements.
    • Creasing or folding.
    • Soiling.
    • Damp patches.
    • Tie tapes damaged or missing.
    • Worn flex.
    • Loose connections.
  • Hair Straightener

    The use in hair straighteners has seen a rise in accidents and a large portion of burning incidents were found to be found to be due to children coming into contact with hair straighteners. Hair straighteners typically reach a very high temperature somewhere in the region of 220°C, and they take a long time to cool down. A lot of people are unaware that even after been switched off and unplugged , they can still burn a child up to 8 minutes after.

  • Phone Chargers
    • When not in use phone chargers should be switched off and only turned on when needed.
    • Never leave your charger on through the night and never leave it on bed .
    • Make sure that the charger you use if right for your product. If you need to replace make sure that it is a genuine product and bought from a reputable source as some advertised as genuine on online shopping or auction sites may not always be authentic.
    • Do not over charge your product – once your item is fully charged, disconnect it and turn the charger off.

    You are more at risk from fire whilst asleep so it’s a good idea to check before going to bed.

    Check that all electrical appliances are unplugged and switched off unless they are designed to be left on for example your Fridge/Freezer. Make sure that all exits are clear and not blocked in the event your need to evacuate in the night.

    Check that Washing machine/Cooker etc are all off and any candles or cigarettes used are all extinguished correctly. Close any inside doors to stop the chance of fire spreading and keep all door and window keys in a place where everyone can find then easily if needed.

  • Mirrors & sunlight

    These are pictures of a sunlight blaze which was caused by a mirror focussing rays onto bedding. Be careful when placing mirrors crystal balls or even bottles of water on your window sill as the sunrays can have a very bad effect.  Top tip

  • BBQ’s

    Barbecue’s are an enjoyable activity but as with everything things can get out of control.

    • Only use your barbecue if it is good working order.
    • Make sure that children, pets are kept well away from the cooking area.
    • When setting up make sure that you do so in a safe flat area away from trees, shrubs etc.
    • As always never leave the barbecue unattended and keep a bucket of water/sand close by in case of emergency.
    • Do not attempt to move or put away until it is completely cooled down.
  • Garages

    A fire anywhere is dangerous or even deadly but garage fires can often cause more devastation. As with a house fire you may detect this quickly a garage fire can take a lot longer to be found which can cause them to spread more quickly. Most people store combustible items and their garages and a simple spark can lead to a fire or even an explosion so make sure you are careful of what is stored. It is always better to keep these items in your garage rather than your home but make sure that they are stored correctly and the garage is clean and clear from any clutter or rubbish in case the worse should happen.

  • Fire Works and Bonfires

    Fireworks are fun but they are also dangerous. If you are not going to an organised fireworks event and plan to set off fireworks of your own, make sure that everyone know how to deal with them safely.

    Fireworks Safety Code:

    • Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114
    • Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
    • Keep fireworks in a closed box
    • Follow the instructions on each firework
    • Light them at arm’s length, using a taper
    • Stand well back
    • Never go near a firework that has been lit. Even if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode.
    • Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them.
    • Always supervise children around fireworks.
    • Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves.
    • Never give sparklers to children under five.
    • Keep pets indoors.
    • Don’t set off noisy fireworks late at night and never after 11pm.

    Bonfire Safety Tips

    If you have a bonfire, follow these simple guidelines

    • So, they can be aware, warn your neighbours beforehand
    • To prevent excessive smoke only burn dry material, do not burn anything which is wet or damp.
    • When building the bonfire make sure it is away from sheds, fences and trees and not under any cables.
    • Do not use any accelerantes on the fire as these can quickly get out of control.
    • In case of emergencies keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby.
    • Never leave the bonfire unattended and make sure children and pets are kept well away.
    • Don’t throw anything onto the fire that could be conbustable or cause toxic fumes to be made such as paint tins, tyres aerosols. And some containers could even explode causing injury.
    • Once the bonfire has died down, spray the embers with water to stop it reigniting
  • General Fire Prevention

    You can avoid fires in your home by having a working smoke alarm. Smoke alarms are a crucial step towards protecting yourself from fire, but what would you do if it went off during the night? Have a plan ready for an emergency!

    • Fit smoke alarms on every level of your home
    • Test the batteries in your alarm once a week. Never remove them
    • Stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully
    • Don’t tackle fires yourself – Get out, stay out and call 999
    • Make a bedtime check of your home before you go to bed. Close inside doors at night to prevent fire from spreadingPlan an escape route and make sure everyone knows how to escape
    • Avoid leaving children alone when cooking on the hob – keep matches and saucepan handles out of their reach
    • Take care when cooking with hot oil
    • Don’t overload sockets – try to keep one plug per socket
    • Ensure candles are secured in a proper holder and kept away from curtains and fabric


  • Heat Resistant Materials

    Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988/1989, 1993 and 2010

    The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 and 1993) are UK law and are designed to ensure that upholstery components and composites used for furniture supplied in the UK meet specified ignition resistance levels and are suitable labelled.

    Products covered by the Regulations comprise six groups (A to F)

    A) All types of upholstered seating including chairs, settees, padded stools and ottomans. Children’s furniture, foot stools, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, bean bags and floor cushions, nursery furniture and upholstered items designed to contain a baby or small child. Domestic upholstered furniture that is supplied in kit form for self-assembly. Second hand furniture, upholstered head-boards, footboards and side rails of beds.

    B) Furniture for use in the open air (garden and outdoor furniture) which is suitable for use in a dwelling (homes and caravans), upholstery in caravans (although not vehicles or boats). Cane furniture which includes upholstery.

    C) Divans, bed-bases, mattresses, pillows, and mattress pads (toppers) (FILLING MATERIAL ONLY)

    D) Scatter cushions and seat pads (FILLING MATERIAL ONLY)

    E) Permanent covers for furniture (textiles, coated textiles, leather etc) Loose and stretch covers for furniture. Covers for non-visible parts of furniture

    F) Foam and non-foam filling material for furniture

    Appropriate to new furniture which meets the filling requirements and is cigarette resistant. This applies to the likes of baby nests and the word “product” may be substituted for the word “furniture” on the second side of this label.

    Appropriate to new furniture with a limited range of cover fabrics. The cover fabric is not match resistant, but the furniture has an interliner which passes the specified test. The furniture meets the filling requirements and is cigarette resistant.

    Appropriate to new furniture which meets the filling requirements and is both cigarette and match resistant.

Detect and Alert


    Ionization – type Smoke Detectors

    These detect charged particles in smoke

    Optical (photoelectric) Detectors

    These react to light blockage caused by smoke

    Fixed or Rate-of-Rise Temperature Sensors

    These are Heat detectors that react to the heat of the fire

    Fixed sensors have lower false positives

    Flame actuated

    These sense infrared energy of flame or pulsating of the flame

    Very FAST response time but expensive!

    Combines Smoke Alarms(Ionisation & Optical)

    These detectors are effective at detecting slow-burning as well as flaming fires


    Homes should have at least one smoke alarm per floor

    Smoke alarms are available from almost everywhere now from DIY and electrical shops also most supermarkets now stock them. They are easy to install and are affordable .

    Smoke alarms or detectors are an important asset to any home as they give peace and mind by providing early vital warnings and allow you extra time to escape from your home

    Choosing and fitting your smoke alarm

    • Any alarm you buy should be marked with a current British Standards or European (CE) safety mark
    • Always check the instructions within each alarm and if suitable to do so fit smoke alarms on every level of your home ceiling or high up on a wall.
    • Fit smoke alarms in any room off your property that may contain a fire risk but with kitchens or bathrooms fir away as steam can damage the alarm, or set it off by mistake
    • If you have difficulty with mobility or leaving your house quickly if may be an idea to fit extra smoke alarms to give you an advanced warning

    Make sure your smoke alarm works

    • Test your smoke alarm every week
    • When the low battery warning operates change the battery or consider using an alarm with a 10 year battery
    • Never try to remove or replace batteries in a 10year smoke alarm as they cannot be removed or replaced.
    • If your alarm goes off by mistake never remove the batteries or disconnect it

    Hearing difficulties

    You should think about an alarm with a strobe light and vibrating-pad system if you are deaf, a little hard of hearing or simply a heavy sleeper.

    These alarms work in the same way as other smoke alarms

    • Make sure if you use vibrating pad, that it is properly linked to the fire alarm
    • Also linked to your fire alarm you can use a pager but remember to keep it charged and more important keep it with you.
    • If you have any concerns or suspect that your system is not working properly, contact your social service team who supplied it

    Sight difficulties

    If you have any sight difficulties you could place tactile indicators along your escape route. Test your escape route to make sure you feel comfortable following them.

    If you have trouble seeing your alarm to test it you can place a coloured sticker, or ask your local fire and rescue service if they can provide a coloured cover.

    To ensure that your appliances are switched off correctly you can fit bump-ons (also known as plastic blisters).

    Checking leads regularly is important these can be checked by touch and if they are found to be frayed or faulty do not plug them in or switch them on. If electrics are giving off a burning smell turn them off and unplug them immediately.

    Mobility difficulties

    If you have difficulty with mobility you may find it difficult to test your alarm if so ask someone to do it for you. You can get easy access alarms which can be on wall as opposed to the ceiling.

    You may also consider fitting an intercom to alert someone else in the house if you need help in an emergency

    in the house in the event of an emergency.

    Always make sure that you can access any aids you require such as walking sticks quickly in an emergency.


    Any home that contains fuel burning appliances such as a boiler should make sure that a carbon monoxide alarm is fitted and tested regularly.

    If you use oxygen

    As with any pressurized equipment make sure that it is always kept in a dry well ventilated area out of direct sunlight and away from any heat sources.

    Never use your oxygen near a naked flame this includes gas and electric cookers always make sure you are a safe distance of 3 metres.

    If you have any concerns or need further information always contact your oxygen supplier who will be able to assist.

  • Carbon monoxide safety tips

    As with any alarm make sure that you test it regularly

    Always have any fuel-burning appliances serviced annually by a Gas Safe Registered engineer

    Make sure that there are no blockages in chimney flues, so make sure these are swept at least once a year and make sure that all ventilation is kept clear.

    Check every room to make sure that air vents are clear and that each room has enough ventilation in case a leak does occur.

    If a carbon monoxide leak does occur Be aware of the symptoms: headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapsing and loss of consciousness are all signs of CO poisoning

    If the above symptoms seem to clear up once you are away from your home or if other people within the home experience the same then this could be a key sign to exposure.


  • Remember

    If your clothes ever catch on fire remember these important steps:


    You should STOP where you are and not run because running will make the fire worse.

    DROP down on the ground and ROLL with your arms over your head and this will smother the fire.

  • Fire Extinguishers

    To prevent a larger fire, small household fires can be tackled with a fire extinguisher or fire blanket if it is safe to do so, providing it is the correct one for the type of fire you are dealing with. Choose a fire extinguisher designed for home use. Extinguisher’s themselves have clear instructions for use and suggest the best place to locate it in the house.

    Every fire is different and no single type of extinguisher is totally effective on every type fire. So before buying one look carefully at what type of fire it is to be used on:

    The main types of extinguisher for the home are:

    • Water
    • Foam
    • Dry Powder (ABC rated)
    • Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
    • Dry water Mist
  • Fire blankets

    Fire blankets conforming to British Standard BSEN1869:1997 are suitable for use in the home.

    They are made from fire-resistant materials and are useful for smothering a person if their clothes catch in fire or for fat pan fires.

    Some fire blankets need to be thrown away after use, check the blanked it will be marked to state if this is the case or if it can be used again after cleaning. Always use in accordance to the Manufacturer’s instructions.

    • On a fat pan fire you should use either a fire blanket or damp cloth.
    • Always keep fire blankets in the kitchen.
    • In the event of a fire the blanket should not be put too close to your cooker as you may not reach it in time.
    • Always place the fire blanket near an escape route so that you have the option to walk away and contact the Fire and Rescue Service if you feel the fire is too large to tackle.
  • Extinguishing a fire in its initial stage

    Electrical Fires

    The main cause of electrical fires is due to faulty wiring or poor maintenance of electrical systems. To stop a fire before it starts make sure that all electrical work is carried out by a licensed electrician, also do not overload electrical outlets. Keep them clear of dust, rubbish even spider webs as these can all lead to fires. It is an also use circuit breakers as often as possible as these will stop a power surge from starting a fire.

    Turning off your power is the best step to take if your electrical system starts to spark or fire ignites wiring. Make sure you turn the power off at the breaker box, if the system is only sparking this could be enough to stop it spreading and a fire occurring. Do not just unplug your system as this could cause electrocution as well. Turn off power to the electrical system.

    If you need to use an extinguisher on a electrical fire you will need to use a extinguisher suitable for this these are either CO2 (Black ) or Dry powder(Blue) if you cannot cut the power to the source. These contain non-conductive substances unlike a Class A extinguisher which will only contain pressurized water which of course conducts electricity. This all depends if you have been able to turn the power off if so then a class A would be acceptable as you have turned the electrical fire into a standard Class A fire. If you have not been able to extinguish the fire within five seconds then evacuate the property and call the Fire Brigade

    Since the faulty wiring is still receiving power in this case, the fire can reignite. You should still cut power to the source as soon as possible.

    Another step you can take if you have been able to turn off the power completely if using a fire blanket. If using this again only do so with power off and drape the blanket over the fire do not throw it on . This is very

    effective in the early stages and does not damage objects in close proximity as an extinguisher would.

    Once the fire is out you should still contact the Fire Service as smouldering objects can reignite and they will be able to remove any risks completely.

    Extinguishing Liquid/Oil Fires

    Wherever possible when dealing with fires involving flammable liquids you should always turn off the fuel supply first. In most cases the flammable liquid is the only fuel source and the fire may extinguish itself as soon as it is cut off.

    Do not use water based extinguishers on a liquid or oil fire. Using a CO2 or dry chemical extinguisher should be used or if the fire is small a fire blanket can be used but make sure that the fire is not to large to smother it. Use a fire blanket to smother the fire. Remember never throw water on a liquid or oil fires. As the oil will settle on top of the water it spray hot burning oil in every direction as it boils off and evaporates and can spread the fire very quickly.

    Remember smouldering objects can reignite so it is best to contact the fire service as they can remove any risks completely.

    Extinguishing Organic Fires

    When extinguishing organic fires – these are when the fuel source is such as wood, cloth, rubber, plastic, paper, etc- then this is mean that you have a class A fire so a water based extinguisher can be used these are colour coded red. To use you will need to aim at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth across it always remember that if you cannot extinguish the fire within five seconds using the extinguisher it is too large and you will need to call the fire service. Also if you do not have an extinguisher you can use a fire blanket as this removed oxygen from the fire which will starve its ability to burn.

    You can if it is the only thing available to you, use large amounts of water from the sink but if the fire is spreading and increasing quicker than t=you can douse it evacuate and call the fire Service. As with all fire contact the Fire Service even if you manage to extinguish it as they will make sure that it has no chance of re starting.


  • What to do if there is a fire


    • Don’t panic, be quick , get everyone out as soon as possible.
    • Don’t rescue valuables or spend time checking what’s happened GET OUT.
    • If you see smoke, keep low to the ground where the air is clearer.
    • Never open a door always check if it’s warm. If it is, fire is on the other side do not open.
    • Call 999 as soon as you have left the building.
  • What to do if your escape is blocked
    • If for any reason you can’t escape, gather anyone in the home into one room, ideally with a window and a phone.
    • To block out the smoke place bedding around the bottom of the door, then open the window and call “HELP FIRE”
    • You may be able to escape if you’re on the ground or first floor through a window.
    • If you need to escape through a window DON’T JUMP try to lower yourself down carefully , place bedding to cushion your fall.
    • If for any reason you cannot open the window, break the glass but do so at the bottom corner. Make the area safe using a towel or blanket to protect from any jagged edges.
  • How to escape a fire in a high level building


    • Plan and practise an escape route.
    • Never use lifts in the event of a fire always use the stairs to make your escape.
    • In case of any confusion due to smoke make sure you are aware of how many exits you need to go through in order to reach the stairs..
    • Always make sure that stairways and corridors are free from clutter such as boxes or rubbish as these could easily catch fire.
    • Check that doors to stairs are not locked and if there are multiple stairs that you are aware of them in case one may be blocked.
    • Anyone on the building should be aware of where the fire alarms are make sure everyone including yourself is aware.
    • You should still get a smoke alarm for your own home, even if there is a warning system in the block.

    If for any reason the hallways are blocked by fire and you cannot exit, call the fire brigade notify them of your exact position. Make sure that any doors between yourself and the fire are closed and if possible use duck tape or towels to try to form a seal also over air vents to stop smoke from getting in. Gather everyone in one room and open the window never break in case outside smoke gets in. Wait for the fire bridge to arrive.

  • Escape Plan
    • Draw a map of your home. Show all exits including windows.
    • Check every room and try to find two ways of escape.
    • Check all windows and doors to make sure that they all open easily.
    • Test your home smoke alrms to make sure that each alarm is working correctly.
    • Make sure that everyone in your home os aware of the escape plan so discuss it.
    • You should have one meeting point that everyone should go to make sure everyone is aware.
    • Practice your home fire escape drill.

Contact UK Fire Training

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To book a course or to find out more, call us today on 0800 216764, email us at or simply complete this enquiry form.

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