There are approximately 150,000 fires in England each year, many of which are preventable. The most common causes of fires in the home are cooking, overloaded electrics, smoking and candles.
It’s important that tenants understand how to keep themselves and their property as safe as possible.
Making your Home Fire Safe
As a tenant, how can you reduce the risk of fire in your home and help plan the best course of action in case there is a fire?
Test your Fire Alarms
You should test your fire alarms to make sure they’re working every week. This includes any carbon monoxide alarms. Only working alarms save lives. In a rental property, you will find a smoke alarm on each storey of the property, and they are typically located in corridors and hallways. You may also have a heat alarm in the kitchen or a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where there is a solid burning appliance (log burner or similar).
How to Test your Alarm
Press and hold the test button on the smoke detector. It can take a few seconds to begin, but a loud, ear-piercing siren should emanate from the smoke detector while the button is pressed. If the sound is weak or if there is no sound, replace the batteries.
No Smoking or Open Flames
Smoking, candles, and open flames are not permitted within the clauses of your tenancy agreement. These are among the leading causes of fires in residential homes and should not be used within the property during your tenancy by you, other residents, or visitors.
Take Care When Cooking
Never leave things you are cooking unattended and be sure not to cook if you have been drinking.
Preventing Cooking Fires
- Avoid leaving cooking unattended. If you must leave the kitchen whilst cooking, it’s safer to take pans off the heat and turn off the hob and/or grill.
- Don’t cook if you are tired, have been drinking alcohol or taking medication that might make you drowsy.
- Loose clothing can easily catch fire. Take care not to lean over a hot hob and keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
- Keep the oven, hob, cooker hood, and grill clean, and in good working order. A build-up of fat and grease can ignite and cause a fire
- Use spark devices to light gas cookers.
- Double check the cooker and hob are turned off when you’ve finished cooking.
- Check toasters are clean and not placed under kitchen cabinets or close to anything that can catch fire.
- Never put anything metal in the microwave.
- Always supervise children (and pets) in the kitchen. Put matches away and keep saucepan handles out of their reach
If a Pan Catches Fire
- Don’t tackle the fire yourself and don’t attempt to move the pan.
- Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so.
- Never throw water over a fire as it could create a fireball.
- Leave the room, close the door, shout a warning to others and call the fire brigade by dialling 999.
Prevent Electrical Fires
Electrical fires are among the top causes of fires in the home. Whether you own or rent your home, it's important to know the signs of a potential electrical problem. Look out for scorch marks, flickering lights, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reason. In addition, you should always follow these simple rules:
- Make sure electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark when you buy them.
- Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order.
- Empty fluff regularly from tumble dryers in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Hair straighteners get extremely hot. Always switch them off and leave them to cool on a heatproof surface.
- Keep to one plug per socket. High powered appliances such as washing machines, should have a single socket to themselves.
Keep your Chimney Clear
Making sure your chimney is swept and is clear of obstructions can help prevent a serious fire. There are over 7,000 chimney fires in the UK each year, many of which are preventable. If your home has a fireplace, you should be sure that it is cleaned at least annually. Never leave a fire unattended and be sure that any fire is out before you go to bed.
Know Your Escape Plan
Make sure you know what to do if you have a fire. Putting together a sensible escape plan and knowing what to do in case of fire is essential. Share the plan with everyone in your household including elderly relatives and young children. Remember to practise it regularly. Escape Plans for Developments of Blocks of Flats If you live within a development or block of flats your plan may need to be different. Please familiarise yourself with your block / developments fire safety guide.
Escape Plans for Developments of Blocks of Flats
If you live within a development or block of flats your plan may need to be different. Please familiarise yourself with your block / developments fire safety guide.
Know Where the Keys Live
In case of fire, you need to be able to exit the property promptly, all residents of the home should have an agreed location for door and window keys. This means that in the event of a fire you should be able to lay your hands on them quickly to allow you to exit the property.
Keep Clear of Trip Hazards
Make sure that all corridors and access to and from the property are kept clear of obstruction. This means if you need to escape the property quickly you will not face things in your way upon which you might trip or fall.
Fire Safety Checks for Managed Properties
Why not use the London Fire Brigade’s Home Fire Safety Checker or even arrange a visit from the London Fire Brigade to check that your property is Fire Safe.
Disclaimer: This blog post is produced for general guidance only, and professional advice should be sought before any decision is made. Nothing in this post should be construed as the giving of advice. Individual circumstances can vary and therefore no responsibility can be accepted by the contributors or the publisher, Gordon & Co, for any action taken, or any decision made to refrain from action, by any readers of this post.