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Winter safety advice for carers

Everyone should be aware of the dangers of fire at home, but when caring for someone you may need to put extra consideration into how you can minimise the risk of fire.

You can take the following measures to reduce the impact of fire:

Working smoke alarms

  • One of the easiest and most beneficial measures you can take is to install a smoke alarm, ideally you would install one on each level, including in the bedroom. You should ensure that they are installed correctly and are properly maintained, testing weekly and replacing the batteries annually.
  • If the person you are caring for lives alone, they may not be able to respond to the alarm, but it could alert their neighbours.
  • You can also consider getting a monitored smoke alarm installed. If the alarm is activated it will inform a central call centre who can contact the emergency services if needed. Contact your local social services for further information.
  • If the person you are caring for is deaf or has other impaired senses, you can buy detectors that have additional indicators such as a flashing light and vibrating alert pads.
  • Your local Fire and Rescue Service may be able to fit a smoke alarm for free.
  • You may also want to consider a carbon monoxide alarm, carbon monoxide will cause you to become unconscious and eventually suffocate. It can be caused by faulty gas fires, and is also present in house fires.
  • It is a good idea for the person you care for to keep a phone by their bed so that they can contact the emergency services if the alarm is triggered.
  • You may want to consider getting a pendant alarm for the person you care for. This means that they will have a button to press if they need to summon help and this will then be responded to by a central contact centre.

Close your doors

  • Closing all internal doors will reduce the risk of fire and smoke spreading throughout the property.
  • Consider fitting fire doors and automatic door closing devices. Fire doors will restrict the spread of the fire and smoke, allowing more time for escape or help to arrive.

Make an escape plan

  • Make sure that you and the person you are caring for know how to get out of the house in the event of a fire.
  • Check that the person you care for is able to get out of the property and if assistance is required make sure that this is included within the escape plan.
  • If the person you are looking after uses a mobility aid, make sure that it is within reach at all times.
  • Keep all exits free from obstructions.
  • Know where your keys are so that you can find them and open your doors easily.
  • Check that the person you care for is able to lock and unlock the doors independently and that they know where their keys are kept. If they have difficulty with this and live alone then you may need to consider fitting locks that do not require an internal key. Contact your GP or social services for further advice.
  • If they suffer from a visual impairment you could place tactile markers along the escape path so that they can easily find there way out in the event of a fire.

Other things to consider

Memory problems

  • People with memory impairment may be at an increased risk of accidental fire and need extra support to remember things when carrying out everyday tasks.
  • It may be helpful to consider whether the person you care about is likely to light a cigarette and forget about it or might they forget that they have put something on the cooker?
  • Can they assess risk, for example would they know what to do if the smoke alarm sounded?
  • For help and advice with supporting someone who has a mental health problem, visit Mind's website.

Electric blankets

Check that your electric blanket:

  • is not older than 10 years old.
  • is not damaged or frayed.
  • does not have scorch marks or loose connections.
  • is not used by people who are incontinent.

Need further advice and support?

If you are concerned about your own health and wellbeing or that of someone you care about make an appointment to see your GP.

The following organisations are also available for advice and support

The Samaritans – 116 123 /

Mind, for better mental health - 0300 123 3393/

Alzheimer's Society - 0845 300 0336 /

Age UK - 0800 169 6565 /

NHS 111

Princess Royal Trust for Carers - 0808 808 7777 /


The Silver Line (helpline for older people) – 0800 470 8090 /

More than half of all 75 year olds in the UK live alone and one in ten suffers intense loneliness but is reluctant to ask for help. 9 out of 10 older people told researchers that a chat on the phone is the most helpful solution when they feel lonely, but 1 in 4 older people say they never or seldom have someone to chat to on the phone.            

The Silver Line is a confidential, free helpline for older people across the UK open every day and night of the year. Their specially trained helpline staff:

  • Offer information, friendship and advice.
  • Link callers to local groups and services.
  • Offer regular befriending calls.
  • Protect and support those who are suffering abuse and neglect.