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Avoiding the main causes of fires

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  • Take your cooking off the heat if you need to leave the kitchen.
  • Turn saucepan handles so they don’t stick out where they can be accidentally knocked.
  • Don’t allow children in the kitchen alone when you’re cooking on the hob.
  • Spark devices are safer than matches or lighters, to light gas cookers. Always keep them out of children’s reach.
  • Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing near flames.
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from hobs.
  • Double check the cooker’s off when you’ve finished cooking.
  • Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order as a build-up of fat and grease can start a fire.
  • Go careful when cooking with hot oil – it catches fire easily. If the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot. Turn off the heat immediately and leave it to cool.
  • Preferably, use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer, if they're in full working order with no defects then they shouldn't overheat.
  • If a pan catches fire, never throw water over it – it will make the fire much worse. If it’s safe to do so, turn off the heat and put your fire blanket over the pan. If it’s not safe, get out, stay out and call 999.
  • Keep electrics, like appliances, leads and sockets, away from water.
  • Don’t put anything metal into the microwave.
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from flammable items. Also make sure there are no kitchen units above them.

 

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  • Unplugging appliances reduces the risk of fire – unplug them when you’re not using them, and particularly at night, when a fire can quickly spread unnoticed and cause more danger and damage.
  • Clean lint from tumble dryers and clean behind your fridge and freezer regularly to keep lint and dust from building up. Make sure there’s enough room behind these appliances for air to circulate freely.
  • Store electric blankets flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring. Check them regularly for wear and tear and don’t buy them second hand. 
  • Unplug electric blankets before you go to bed, unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use.
  • Always register your electrical appliances so that the manufacturer can contact you if there’s a problem. It’s free and easy to do, just sign up here and help keep yourself safe.


Overloaded sockets

  • Don’t overload sockets. It’s best to keep to one plug per socket. 
  • Large appliances, like washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves, as they’re high powered. 
  • An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so don’t overload it. And remember that appliances use different amounts of power – always check you use the right fuse to prevent overheating. If you’re not sure whether you’ve overloaded your sockets, try this handy tool.

 


Faulty appliances and wiring

  • Watch out for frayed or loose wiring and other danger signs such as scorch marks, hot plugs or sockets, flickering lights, blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers for no obvious reasons.
  • Check and replace old cables or leads, especially if they’re hidden behind furniture or under carpets. 
  • Make sure any electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it. 
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  • Make sure candles are in a proper holder and away from draughts and anything that could catch fire (such as curtains).
  • Put candles out when you leave the room.
  • Don’t leave children or pets alone with candles.
  • Make sure candles are out completely at night.
  • Use a snuffer or spoon - it’s safer than blowing them out, which can cause sparks to fly.

 

  • Secure portable heaters up against a wall to stop them from falling over. 
  • Keep them away from bedding, curtains and clothing – anything which could catch fire. 
  • Never use portable heaters for drying clothes and turn them off before you go to bed.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you want to fit your own gas appliances (like a fire in a spare fireplace), it's essential that you employ a 'Gas Safe' registered engineer to do the work. Contact us if you’d like any advice on installing additional gas appliances.

 

If you have a gas supply, it's really important that you know where and how to turn it off in an emergency (it's usually located outside, where the gas pipes enter your property). A gas leak is a fire risk and carbon monoxide risk.

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If you smell gas 

  • DO call 0800 111 999 immediately (the Gas Network Provider freephone number)
  • DO put out naked flames (including cigarettes)
  • DO open all doors and windows
  • DO shut off your gas supply at the meter (this is usually located outside, where the gas pipes enter your property)
  • DON'T strike matches or light a cigarette
  • DON'T turn electrical switches on or off
Find out more about our gas safety and keeping you and your home safe here.

Seasonal fire risks


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  • Don't cook if you're affected by alcohol or prescription drugs.
  • Never leave barbecues unattended.
  • Never use any sort of BBQ indoors or in an enclosed space like a tent or awning. The carbon monoxide gas it gives off could kill you.
  • Never use a BBQ on a balcony.
  • Keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies.
  • Set up your BBQ on level ground, well away from bushes, fences, tents or other structures like sheds.
  • Be careful when cooking fatty foods, the dripping fat can cause the barbecue to flare up.
  • Make sure the coals are cool before you move the barbecue. Once cool, dispose of the ashes safely – never place them in dustbins.
  • Don't use petrol or paraffin to light your BBQ – firelighters are a much safer option.
  • Clean removable parts of a BBQ with soapy water to stop fat building up.

 

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  • Build bonfires away from the house, sheds, fences, trees and overhead cables.
  • Never use flammable liquids like paraffin or petrol to light the fire - it may get out of control quickly.
  • Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby in case of emergencies.
  • Don't leave the bonfire unattended.  
  • Keep children and pets away from the bonfire. 
  • Don't burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint - many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode, causing injury. 
  • Once the bonfire’s died down, spray the embers with water to stop it reigniting.

 

  • If you have a real Christmas tree, put it in a stand that will hold 2-3 litres of water, and keep it topped up daily to help prevent fire from taking hold.
  • Keep the tree away from all heat sources, including radiators, television sets and fireplaces. 
  • Check your Christmas tree lights are in good condition before you put them on the tree – get rid of any frayed or damaged sets of lights. 
  • Turn Christmas tree lights off before you go to bed.
  • Never put candles on or near the tree.