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These simple steps will help protect you and your family and your home from fire.

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In the event of a fire

House Fire

  • Alert everyone
  • Get out straight away
  • Avoid smoke by keeping low
  • Only open doors you need for your escape
  • Always check the door for heat first with the back of your hand (if hot find another route)
  • Once outside call the Fire Service, stating your full address

Smoke alarms

Smoke Alarm

  • Check your smoke alarm every week. Push the button, not your luck!
  • Give your smoke alarm a birthday
  • Change your battery every year on a date that you can remember easily, like your birthday
  • Change your smoke alarm every 10 years. Like most electrical goods they can stop working – it is better to change them before this happens
  • Have at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home; these must be in the hallways as they are your escape routes
  • If you wear a hearing aid, can you hear the alarms when you are not wearing the hearing aid, e.g. at night?

Call us for advice on specialist smoke alarms on 0800 032 1155.

People living in high-rise accommodation

High rise

  • Have an escape plan so that you and your family are prepared
  • Let everyone in your home what the escape plan i and practise it
  • Keep exits clear of obstructions
  • If it is too dangerous to follow your escape route, ring 999 and stay inside the safest room. Keep the door shut and use towels or bedding at the bottom of the door to block the smoke.
  • Use the stairs, not the lift, when leaving the building in the event of a fire.
  • If there's a fire in another flat in the building, you're usually safest in your own home, unless you're affected by the heat or smoke.
  • In the event of a fire, never assume that someone else has called 999. Make sure your neighbours know about the fire. Bang on their doors on your way out.
  • Never tamper with internal fire mains (dry riser) inlets on landings. These provide water to firefighters when there's an emergency. It could cost lives if they're not working properly when there's a fire.
  • If you see a dry riser vandalised or damaged, report it immediately to the manager of the building.
  • Never use or store bottled gas cylinders in high-rise flats.
  • Be mindful of your parking and never park block access to high-rise flats so that the fire engines can access the building
For more safety and advice download our high-rise living booklet.

For information on the Stay Put policy, please visit see the national advice here.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas. It is also extremely poisonous and because you can't see it, taste it or smell it, it COULD kill without warning in just a few hours.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to those of food poisoning and flu. However, unlike flu, carbon monoxide poisoning does not cause a high temperature (fever).

Being aware of the symptoms could save your life.

Common symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • dizziness and nausea
  • vomiting
  • tiredness and confusion
  • stomach pain
  • shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

For more information including advice on alarms visit Gas Safe Register

Camping and Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide in the home

Electrical safety

Electrical Safety First

  • Do not overload electrical sockets
  • Always unplug appliances when you have finished with them; plugs can get hot
  • Make sure your electrical goods do not pre-date the EU safety standards; If unsure, get them checked by a qualified electrician
  • Do not cover cables or leave them coiled; they need to be ventilated and checked for any broken covering

For lots of really useful advice on all kinds of electrical safety matters, from help on appliances to guidance for landlords, visit the Electrical Safety First website.

The Socket Calculator has been brought to you by Electrical Safety First.

For more safety information visit http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Electric blanket safety

Electric Blanket Safety

  • Always follow manufacturers' instructions for using your blanket
  • Electric blankets should be replaced every ten years
  • You should have your electric blanket tested every two years; check with your local Age Concern office to see if anyone is testing in your area
  • Always check your blanket for scorch marks, water damage, mould or exposed wires; if you see any of these on your blanket do not use it, replace it
  • Never use a hot water bottle or drink fluids in bed if you have fitted your electric blanket

Candle safety


  • Do not place candles near flammable material
  • Make sure they are fully extinguished before leaving the room; heat travels and can easily set things alight
  • Always use sturdy holders and do not leave lit candles unattended as they can easily be knocked over by children, pets or even the wind
  • Keep torches handy in case of a power cut, they are much safer than candles

Cooking safety

Cooking safety

  • When cooking never leave any thing unattended, even for a short time
  • Keep combustibles such as tea towels and kitchen paper away from the hob
  • Switch off the cooker as soon as you have finished using it (at the wall if electric)
  • Do not use toasters under cupboards, pull them out and away from the wall
  • Bread in a toaster can catch fire very easily so empty the crumbs regularly
  • If you use a chip pan, never fill it more than a third full and do not leave it unattended.
  • Consider a safer alternative for deep-fat frying such as such as a temperature-controlled fryer or even oven chips
  • Do not place portable heaters where they can be knocked or tripped over and ensure that the air vents are kept clear and do not overheat

Escape routes

Escape Plan

  • Plan an easy escape route: always make sure hallways, stairs etc. are not blocked with clutter
  • Plan an alternative route in case your first choice is blocked by fire: make sure everyone in your house knows the plans
  • Practise your escape routes and turn it into a game with all the family involved
  • Have a designated place to keep door keys on your exit route; the keys must always be kept here so that everyone could access them in a fire
  • In case you can't get out of your home, think of a safe room to go to then block any gaps in the door with clothing etc. and open the window for fresh air; if you do not have a mobile phone shout FIRE! until you are rescued
  • If your clothes catch fire, remember: Stop, Drop and Roll – this will help put the flames out; cover your face with your hands to protect it from the flames

Heating safety

Heating Safety

  • Never use petrol or other flammable liquids to light a fire; they can be very unpredictable and may not react as you expect
  • Always use a full protective fireguard when children, infirm people or pets are in the room and always ensure it is in place when you leave the room
  • Ensure the chimney is swept at least once a year (or flues checked if it is a gas fire)
  • All heating appliances should be checked regularly by a qualified person
  • Never place flammable materials, such as curtains or chairs, near a fire or heater; heat travels and can easily set things alight!
  • Be careful not to place portable heaters where they can be knocked or tripped over; ensure that the air vents are kept clear and do not overheat

Additional information and advice regarding safely heating your home using solid fuel can be found on the HETAS website. This includes information, guidance and HETAS advice on the following topics:

  • Chimneys and linings
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Installing and using solid fuel stoves, (see also; link to the Stove Industry Alliance )
  • Solid fuel appliances and Building Regulations
  • Smoke control areas

Chimney fire safety

Regular inspection and cleaning of chimney flues will help eliminate the build-up of soot from coal, wood, oil and gas-fired systems. Sweeping also clears obstructions such as bird nests, leaves and debris.

You should have your chimney swept before lighting the first fire of the winter and also ensure that any appliances which haven't been used for a while are given a safety check.

How often should I clean my chimney?

We recommend the following simple maintenance routines:

  • Solid fuel fires – Once a year for smokeless fuel; twice a year for coal
  • Wood burning fires – four times a year when in use
  • Gas fires – Once a year if designed for sweeping
  • Oil fires – Once a year

The Fire Service also advises that you:
Chimney Fire Safety

  • Place a fireguard in front of the fire at all times
  • Extinguish all fires before going to bed or leaving the property unattended
  • Do not burn paper or rubbish on fires in the grate
  • Check for smoke from cracks in the chimney breast
  • Install a working smoke alarm in the roof space (note: manufacturers may not recommend installing their product in an unconverted loft space and doing so may invalidate the warranty of the product. Please check the guidance notes or contact the manufacturer prior to installation)
  • Consider fitting a carbon monoxide detector

Soot and smoke from a small chimney fire can cause extensive damage to personal property while larger fires can damage the roof, wipe out the first floor or even destroy a home completely.

Ensure that your smoke alarms, including any fitted in the roof space, are in full working order you have early warning should the chimney catch alight.

You can find our leaflet on Chimney Fire Safety.

Additional information and advice regarding safely heating your home using solid fuel can be found on the HETAS website. This includes information, guidance and HETAS advice on the following topics:

  • Chimneys and linings
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Installing and using solid fuel stoves, (see also; link to the Stove Industry Alliance )
  • Solid fuel appliances and Building Regulations
  • Smoke control areas

Approved chimney sweeps operating in your area can be found at:

Night routines

  • Always check all candles and cigarettes are completely put out before going to sleep
  • Turn off all non-required appliances such as TVs and computers; every night there is a power surge on the National Grid and even if your appliances do not catch fire, they could still be damaged
  • If you have one, keep your mobile phone where you can easily reach it in bed – this could be the difference between you being able to call 999 and not
  • Keep torches in easy-to-access places; being able to pick up a torch straight away will help you escape a dark, smoke-filled room