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Your Safety at Home

...staying safe in the home & garden

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Home safety

"Almost all fires in the home can be prevented"

Every year, the fire brigade is called out to over 60,000 fires in the home. And every year, around 500 people die in these fires and over 10,000 are injured.

If a fire occurs in your home, your chances of survival will depend on how quickly and safely you are able to get out.

Answer 'yes' or 'no' to each question and then check to see how much you know about fire safety in the home. Tips appear based on the answers you give. They give advice on how to improve fire safety within your home.

Is there an open fat fryer? YesNo

Picture of chip pan

Before putting food in the pan dry the food and test the temperature of the oil by putting in a small piece of bread. If the bread crisps up quickly, the oil is ready.

If the pan does catch fire:

If you are in any doubt about whether to try to put out a chip pan fire yourself then don't - leave the room, close the door and call the fire brigade.

Is there an unguarded open fire? YesNo

Are there any portable fires? YesNo

Are fires left burning overnight? YesNo

Picture of plugs

Make sure you have a bedtime fire safety routine to help keep you and your family safe.

Switch off and unplug all electrical appliances not designed to stay on. (There are specially designed plugs available which can be very easily inserted and removed. Details of these devices are available from the Disabled Living Foundation).

Switch off portable heaters.

Close the doors of all rooms

Many fires in the home start at night.

Are candles or incense burners used? YesNo

Are matches and lighters left out with children around? YesNo

Does anyone smoke? YesNo

Do you have a 'Home Escape Plan'? YesNo

Planning Your Escape Route

Everyone in the house should be aware of the escape route.

Make sure that your planned escape route remains free of any obstructions and that there are no loose floor coverings that could trip you. Everyone in the house should be made aware of the escape route.

If you have serious mobility difficulties you may wish to consider having your bedroom on the ground floor, if this is practical, and as near as possible to the exit. If you would need assistance to make your escape, it is vital that you have some means of summoning help by your bed, i.e. a buzzer, intercom or telephone.

There are also systems available which will automatically dial out on your telephone line to summon help or send a signal to a manned control room. Details of the many emergency call/alarm systems available can be obtained from the Disabled Living Foundation who produce a booklet on the subject.

Is there a smoke alarm? YesNo

Get a smoke alarm

"Smoke alarms cost as little as £5"
Picture of a smoke alarm

Smoke alarms cost as little as £5 and are simple to install. They are widely available from DIY, hardware and electrical shops and some supermarkets. Choose an alarm which meets British Standard BS5446 Part 1 and carries the Kitemark.

Follow the manufacturers instructions on how to fit the alarm. If you have difficulties, local voluntary organisations may be able to make arrangements to have the alarm fitted for you. The instructions will also give you guidance on battery replacement and maintenance.

Do you or anyone in the household have a hearing impairment? YesNo

Many people whose hearing is not severely impaired are still able to hear a conventional smoke alarm. It is a good idea to link two or more alarms. This way smoke detected in one room will set off another alarm in the bedroom. An electrician will be advise you about linking the alarms.

Further information is available from the Royal National Institute for Deaf People. You may also find it useful to contact local voluntary organisation of the Social Services Department who may be able to offer advice and assistance on products specially designed to help people with disabilities.

What to do if a fire starts

Picture of person phoning
Get Out.
Get the Fire Service Out.
Stay Out.

If possible close the door of the room where the fire is and all doors behind you as you leave. This will help delay the spread of fire and smoke.

Before opening a closed door use the back of your hand to touch it. Don't open it if it feels warm - the fire will be on the other side.

Get everyone out as quickly possible. Don't try to pick up valuables or possessions. Make your way out as safely as you can and try not to panic. It will help if you have planned your escape route rather than waiting until there is a fire.

Telephone the fire brigade on 999 from a neighbour's house or telephone box. Clearly state the address of the fire.

Never go back into the house until a fire officer has told you it is safe to do so.

If you are cut off by fire

Picture of person trapped

Try to remain calm.

If you are unable to use the door because of flames or smoke, close the door and use towels or sheets to block any gaps. This will help stop smoke spreading into the room. Try to make your way to the window.

If the room becomes smoky, crawl along the floor where it's easier to breathe because smoke rises. Open the window, this will allow smoke to escape and provide you with fresh air. Try to attract the attention of others who can alert the fire brigade.

The fire brigade should arrive in a matter of minutes. We do not recommend that you jump out of an upstairs window however, if you are in immediate danger and your room is not too high from the ground, drop cushions or bedding to the ground below to break your fall from the window. Do not try to use a mattress, this could block the window; or tie bedsheets together as you will be unlikely to find a strong enough anchor to tie them to - and do you know what the correct knot would be? If you can, get out feet first and lower yourself to the full length of your arms before dropping.