There has been a lot in the news recently about the risk fire in the home, with several high-profile fires causing an increase in the desire to learn how to protect your home from fire.
The good news is that fires in the home are still rare, and there are several things you can do to further reduce your risks.
Here are our top tips on how to protect your home from fire…
Check/Install Smoke Alarms
It’s probably the single most effective thing you can do to help protect yourself from house fires.
Sure, the smoke alarm won’t prevent or put out the fire, but it will give you the chance to either put out the fire or at least get yourself and your family out of the property safely.
There are now several different smoke alarms available that each detects fire in different ways. There are also smoke alarms that are battery-powered or ones that are wired into the mains.
For the best protection, we would recommend a combination of different alarm types to spread your risk, although it will depend on the unique layout of your home. Check with your local fire brigade for advice tailored to you.
Update Old Electrical Installations
Outdated electrical installations and wiring can be a potential fire hazard in the home. That’s because as our knowledge and understanding improve, so too do the fire safety standards that electricians must comply with.
If the electrics haven’t been updated in your property for a while, it would be worth getting them checked by a qualified electrician. Work that may be required includes rewiring or replacing the consumer unit (fuse board) to bring it up to modern standards.
While much of this work won’t be cheap, it will significantly improve the safety of your home and will also help make your property more appealing to potential buyers should you decide to sell.
Service Your Boiler Regularly
Your boiler should be serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer every year. Not only will this keep it running smoothly and help reduce the need for expensive repairs but it will also reduce the risk of fire if something does go wrong.
Avoid Naked Flames
Smoking is still one of the biggest causes of house fires in the UK, often starting when a person falls asleep without extinguishing their cigarette. If you smoke in the house, avoid doing it while laying in bed or when excessively tired.
Candles are also a cause for concern. If you use candles, make sure they are placed on firm surfaces where they are unlikely to fall. Also, keep them out of reach of both children and pets and make a habit of blowing them out when leaving the room.
Check Your White Goods
If you have a tumble dryer, make sure you ‘de-fluff’ it regularly. A build-up of lint can be catastrophic when it comes to starting fires.
There has also been a lot of media attention on the flammability of the backs of white goods such as fridges and freezers recently. Although the risk is thought to be small, if you are concerned you can check if your appliances affected on the Which? website.
Don’t Cover Heaters
If you use portable heaters instead of, or in addition to central heating, take care not to sit too close to them or let pets and children get too close to them.
You should also place them a good distance from any soft furnishings or anything else that could catch fire if left too close. Equally, don’t cover heaters with blankets or clothes that need drying.
Take Care Using Chip Pans
It’s one of the most famous causes of house fires in the UK thanks to several advertising campaigns raising awareness of the risk of using chip pans and deep fryers. Even today, they are still one of the leading causes of fires in the home.
In terms of advice, the fire service says avoiding them altogether is safest, but says people who do use one should never fill it more than one-third full with oil and to use a fire blanket, rather than water if one does catch alight.
Don’t Leave Laptops On Charge
Believe it or not, your humble laptop can actually start a fire. Avoid placing your laptop or other electronics on soft furnishings that might cause them to overheat while on charge.
Buy Fire Extinguishers
Prevention may be better than cure but it’s impossible to protect yourself from every single situation that can cause a house fire. For that reason, it’s well worth investing in fire extinguishers.
Before you rush out and buy a fire extinguisher though, it’s important to remember that not every fire needs to be fought in the same way, as this article from the fire service explains.
It’s best to have a mixture of extinguishers to fight the most likely types of fires you may face. In general, this should include a fire blanket in the kitchen and at least one fire extinguisher upstairs in case a fire breaks out during the night.
Install Fire Doors
Fire doors are more commonly seen in commercial properties but that doesn’t mean you can’t install them in your home. In fact, they are required by building regulations for doors leading to an integral garage and on new build or properties undergoing renovation that comprise of three storeys or more.
They are a more effective way to slow down and prevent fires from spreading than standard doors. However, they must be installed correctly to be at their most effective so it’s always worth consulting with a professional.
Plan An Escape Route
Have you ever considered what you would do if a fire broke out in your property? What would each person’s escape route be if the fire broke out during the night? How would you reach young children or elderly residents who need help to get out safely?
These kinds of questions need to be considered and a plan put in place for each person to safely escape a house fire should the worst occur. Remember that some exit routes may be blocked so you will need to consider multiple routes of escape and then ensure everyone in the household is aware of exactly what to do if a fire breaks out.
Install Thumb Turn Locks
Thumb turn locks are locks usually used on external doors where the interior side has a simple turn lock rather than a key-operated lock.
They help to make your life easier as you don’t need a key to open doors from the inside, plus they also make it easier for you to escape should a fire break out.
Be sure to consult with a qualified locksmith though, in general, they aren’t recommended for doors that have letterboxes as they can become a security risk.
Claim A Free Home Fire Safety Check
Many local fire services offer a free fire safety check where they will visit your home and provide free advice on how to better protect your home from fire. As part of the service, many will install smoke alarms (if needed) for free or a small charge.
How To Protect Your Home From Fire – A Summary
As you can see, there are several things you can do to help protect your home from fire. Actioning at least a few of these points, alongside a more cautious approach to house fires will help you reduce your risks.
While you should always treat the risk of fire with respect, you should also be comforted to know that according to a recent report, firefighters are being called to fewer dwelling fires than they were 10-15 years ago.
This is likely down to improved safety standards and a better awareness of how to protect your home from fire amongst homeowners.