In the year ending March 2023, 321 people lost their lives due to a fire in Great Britain. Many of these tragedies could have been prevented.

Read on to discover common fire risks in your home and how best to keep your family safe.

One simple thing you can do

The simplest and most effective way to prevent death and injury from house fires is to have a working smoke alarm on every level of the home.

Smoke alarms are especially important if a fire starts at night. We may think we’ll smell the smoke or hear a fire and wake up. But in fact breathing in the thick, black smoke from a fire can kill you so quickly that you never wake up. Smoke alarms give you the vital minutes you need to get your family out before your home is filled with smoke.

You are 8 times more likely to die from a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm in your house.

Press to test: At least once a month

With busy family lives, it can be hard to get into the habit of testing our smoke alarms (at least once a month) but it really only takes seconds to do and it could just save you and your loved ones’ lives.

Just press the test button and, if it beeps, it’s working. If an alarm doesn’t beep when you test it, either replace the battery or, if it’s a sealed smoke alarm, replace the alarm itself.

Encourage children to get involved in testing the smoke alarms.

Safety reminders to prevent fires

In the kitchen

Half of all fires are started by cooking. Definitely don’t cook if you have come home from a night out worse for wear or when you’re extremely tired. Starting to cook something to eat and nodding off is the cause of many fires in the home.

Heated hair appliances

Store heated hair appliances safely. A rising number of house fires are caused by hair straighteners and curling tongs.

“We were going out for dinner with friends and the babysitter had already arrived. I’d only had about 15 minutes to get ready after getting the kids down so I was really rushing.

I went back into the bedroom to grab something and realised I’d left the hair straighteners on. I’d chucked them on the bed thinking I’d turned them off.

There was a brown line on the cover where they had just started to burn through. Can’t bear to think what might have happened.”

Appliances

Avoid running your washing machine or dishwasher at night in case it has an electrical fault that starts a fire while your family is asleep.

Matches and lighters

Store matches and lighters out of reach of small children. Get into the routine of putting them back in the same place every time.

Smoking

Make sure your cigarette is properly out and if you’re really tired, it’s best not to smoke in case you fall asleep with the cigarette in your hand.

Candles

Make sure candles are well away from things that could catch fire like curtains or furnishings, or bookshelves with little space above the flame. Keep them out of reach of children who may be tempted to play with them.

E-bikes, e-scooters and hoverboards

The lithium-ion batteries they’re powered by can start fires that spread quickly and are difficult to extinguish. Please shop smart and charge safely to reduce the risk of fire. Learn more.

Overloaded sockets

Don’t overload electrical sockets. Electrical Safety First has a fantastic online socket calculator so you can check that you’re not overloading your sockets. For example, if you use the combination of toaster and kettle on an extension lead running from one socket, it’s dangerously overloaded.

Please enable JavaScript to use the Socket Calculator.

The Socket Calculator has been brought to you by Electrical Safety First. For more safety information visit https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Escape plan and routines

1. Plan and practice

How will you and your family escape if a fire breaks out? Having a well-rehearsed escape plan can save vital minutes, and can literally be a matter of life or death for your family.

2. Teach children

Talk to children about what they should do if a fire breaks out. They will be scared and may be tempted to hide which means it takes longer to find and rescue them.

3. Follow a night-time routine

Switch off appliances, close doors and windows, and make sure cigarettes and candles are completely extinguished.

4. Clear away any clutter

If a fire breaks out you don’t want to be tripping over things in the rush to escape, especially if the house is filled with thick black smoke and it’s dark. So, clear away any clutter on your escape route before you go to bed.

5. Know where your keys are.

Keep keys to any doors on your escape route in one place, so you know where they are in an emergency.

Can you help us spread the word about fire safety?

Related pages

Fire alarm illustration

Fire safe families fact sheet

Download our Fire safe families fact sheet for practical safety tips on how to prevent fires, plan your escape and teach children what to do in an emergency.

E-bikes and e-scooters: Fire safety tips

E-bikes and e-scooters: Fire safety tips

E-bike and e-scooter batteries can start fires that spread quickly and are difficult to extinguish. Learn how to keep your family safe here.

Fire safety

Fire safety booklet for parents and carers

Download and share this fire safety advice booklet for parents and carers from Fire Kills.

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