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Fire safety advice for households

Matches and lighters

The misuse of matches or lighters can start a fire. Protect yourself by following this simple advice:

  • Extinguish all matches properly.
  • Keep all matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children.
  • Refill your lighter away from naked flames and in a well ventilated area.
  • In the event of a power cut, don't use matches or lighters as an alternative light or heat source.


Whether you are using your candles to scent or decorate your home this winter, remember these popular home accessories can be dangerous. Reduce your risk of causing a fire by following our simple recommendations:

  • Candles should never be left unattended and must always be positioned out of reach of children and pets.
  • All candles should be extinguished when you leave the room or before going to bed.
  • Tealights can become extremely hot - they can melt through plastic surfaces such as the top of a television, hi fi or around the side of a bath.  All candles should only ever be used with a suitable candle holder.
  • Avoid placing lit candles on the window sill - a draught could cause curtains or blinds to come into contact with the naked flame.
  • Keep candles away from from all furnishings.
  • Consider an extra smoke alarm in the rooms where you burn candles.
  • Never use outdoor candles, indoors.
  • Leaning over a candle could set your hair or clothes on fire.

Gas / open fires / electric heaters

  • Don't place heaters near curtains or furnishing, and never use them for drying clothes.
  • Do not sit too close to fires or heaters, your clothing or chair could catch fire.
  • Always use a fire guard with open fires, especially if you have young children, elderly or disabled people in the property. It is recommended that the fire guard should be in a fixed position.
  • Portable gas heaters should be checked for leaks, and refilled outside in the open air.
  • Always place heaters in a position where they cannot be easily knocked over.
  • Try to choose electric heaters that have automatic safety switches that turn off the unit if it is tipped over accidentally.
  • Check the power lead before plugging in the electric heater; if frayed, worn or broken, do not use, replace the heater.
  • Never use an extension lead with a portable heater.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) gas can kill.

  • Heating and cooking appliances fuelled by coal, smokeless fuels, wood, oil and gas can cause CO poisoning if they are poorly installed, incorrectly used or if they are not properly and regularly maintained.
  • If you are living in a rented property it is your landlord's responsibility to have your boiler checked annually by an engineer who is on the Gas Safe Register, and a certificate of this check should be made available.
  • Early symptoms of CO poisoning include tiredness, drowsiness, dizziness, chest pains, nausea and flu like symptoms. If you experience these symptoms go to fresh air immediately, turn off any heating and / or cooking appliances and seek medical attention.
  • The National Gas Emergency Hotline can be contacted on 0800 111 999.
  • Anyone with a solid fuel, oil or wood burning appliance should use the following numbers:
    • HETAS (solid fuel and biomass): 0845 601 4406
    • OFTEC (oil): 0845 658 5080
    • APICS (Association of Professional and Independent Chimney Sweeps): 0845 604 4327

For advice on chimneys contact:

  • NACs (National Association of Chimney Sweeps): 01785 811732

Electric blankets


As the cold weather looms electric blankets can be used to keep us warm. By following our simple guidelines outlined below you will reduce the risk of fire.

When buying your electric blanket you should:

  • Buy it from a reliable source.
  • Check that it has a UK safety standard mark - this symbol means the blanket has been independently tested and meets the latest UK and European safety standards.

Before you use your blanket make sure that it (or its cord) does not show any of the following danger signs:

  • Fraying fabric
  • Scorch marks
  • Exposed elements
  • Creasing or folding
  • Soiling
  • Damp patches
  • Tie tapes damaged or missing
  • Worn flex
  • Loose connections
  • An old BEAB safety mark (which appears as a round symbol, meaning the blanket is more than 10 years old). The new safety mark appears in white capital letters on a black background.

If you are in any doubt about your blanket, contact the manufacturer before you use it to make sure that it is safe. It may need to be replaced.

Smoke alarms

A smoke alarm is a warning device that detects smoke at the earliest stages of a fire. When it detects a fire, it will make a piercing noise to alert or wake you.

Did you know that you are more than twice as likely to die in a fire if you haven't got a smoke alarm?

If you haven’t already got smoke alarms fitted in your home, please visit our Safe and Well page for full details of how you can book a FREE Safe and Well visit, which may include the fitting of FREE smoke alarms.

If you already have a smoke alarm in your home make sure your alarm is in good working order and test once a week.  


Being careless in the kitchen can cost lives. Keep yourself and your family safe by following our simple advice:

  • Keep electrical leads, tea towels and cloths away from your cooker.
  • Keep your oven, hob and grill clean. A build up of fat and grease can easily catch fire.
  • Don't put anything metallic such a cutlery or tin cans inside the microwave.
  • Never put a sponge or dishcloth in the microwave to sterilise it - it could catch fire.
  • Take care if you are wearing loose clothing - these can easily catch fire.