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Fire Safety in the Home [Hardfacts]


Every year there are over 50,000 fires in homes which cause around 350 fatalities and injure over 10,000 people.

These statistics highlight the need for action to be taken to reduce the risk of fire in the home.

Domestic Fire Risk

The main causes of accidental fire remain the misuse of equipment or appliances mostly related to cooking. Fires caused from chip pans, smoking materials and electrical appliances or electrical distribution remain significant. Other causes include chimney fires, electric blanket fires and candles.

Homes nowadays contain large amounts of electrical items such as - TV's, videos, DVD players, sound systems, PC's and have a high ‘fire loading' with carpets, curtains, soft furnishings etc. allowing any fire, once started, to spread easily and rapidly.

The very young and the sick/elderly are particularly at risk especially at night when the occupants are invariably locked in.

This hazard increases at certain times of the year (e.g. at Christmas) when the number of occupants in the house can be swelled by relatives and friends.

Also at Christmas, in particular, intoxication plus highly combustible decorations/tree lights/candles can be a lethal combination.
Electrical overload is frequently a cause of fires at this time of year with temporary extension leads connecting the tree lights, illuminated signs etc often with wrongly rated fuses in the plugs.

Some simple fire precautions can help reduce such risks.

The installation of automatic fire detection devices will aid the early warning of fire while the provision of an ‘action plan' in the event of fire will help ensure the safe evacuation of residents.

To minimise the risk of fire some simple precautions can be undertaken in relation to:
- the kitchen and cooking hazards
- electrics and electrical appliances
- smoking
- the presence of naked flames in open fires and candles
- portable heaters
- the type of soft furnishings present
- having a bedtime routine

Simple Fire Precautions - Action Plan

  • Draw up a simple Evacuation Plan and make sure that all the family, together
    with any overnight guests, know what to do in a fire and how to escape safely

  • Make arrangements to help the disabled or young children to safety. Consider the need for a refuge for those with mobility problems - preferably a room with a window and a telephone

  • Make sure escape routes (main and ‘back up' routes) are kept clear and door/ window keys are kept in the same place - which everyone knows

  • Remember to call the local Fire and Rescue Service. If your telephone is out of action make sure everyone knows where the nearest phone is. Also make sure children know how to call the Fire and Rescue Service and what your address is. Consider leaving address details next to the phone

  • Provide extinguishers which are serviced annually by a competent person, located in easily accessible places on fire exit routes. Ensure everyone knows how to use an appropriate extinguisher - but only to tackle the fire if it is safe to do so. Place a reminder of the action plan in a prominent place e.g. a fridge/freezer.

  • Practice the plan

Smoke Detectors

  • Install smoke detector(s) which conform to BS5446 Part 1 and carry the British Standard ‘kitemark'
  • Fit a smoke detector at least on each floor - ideally on the hallway or landing ceilings (not in the kitchen where they can be set off accidentally). Provide additional detection in any bedrooms with a large electrical appliance such as a TV or computer.
  • Bell test weekly
  • Keep a spare set of batteries, or renew annually (unless a special 10 year battery is fitted)


  • Provide a fire blanket. Ensure everyone knows how to use the blanket safely and what to do in the event of a chip pan fire
  • Do not fill a chip-pan more than one third full and do not leave it unattended
  • Dry chips before placing them in the pan
  • Never put chips in the pan if it has started smoking
  • Keep items which can easily catch fire such as electrical leads, curtains, paper towels, tea towels, oven gloves away from the cooker and toaster
  • Keep the oven, toaster, hob and grill clean since any build up of crumbs, fat or grease can easily catch fire
  • Use a spark device rather than matches to light gas cookers
  • Double check that the cooker is ‘off' after cooking is finished

Candles and Scented Burners

  • Place on a heat resistant stable surface

  • Ensure there is at least 1 metre (3ft) between the flame and any surface above it

  • Never leave unattended when alight

  • Put them out before going to bed

  • Keep out of reach of children and pets

  • Keep well away from curtains

  • Follow any manufacturers instructions


  • Always use proper ashtrays and before the ashtray is emptied make sure the contents are cold
  • Never leave a lit cigarette or pipe unattended

  • Never smoke in a chair if you think you may doze off

  • Do not smoke in bed

  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children


  • Fit one plug for one socket unless you use an adapter lead. Ensure any adapter has a fuse and the total output is no more than 13 amps

  • Ensure that electrical appliances, plugs and electrical leads are in good condition. Hot plugs/sockets, scorch marks on plugs/sockets or flickering lights are all signs of problems

  • Replace any worn or taped up cable/ leads and make sure the cord grip is clamped on the outer cable and not the inner insulated wires

  • Do not put cables under carpets or mats

  • Check that all electrical appliances have the correctly rated fuses:

Load (up to)   Fuse        Fuse colour

700 watts       3amps      RED

1000 watts     5amps      BLACK

3000 watts     13amps    BROWN

  • Service electric blankets regularly (at least every 3 years or as recommended by the manufacturer). Replace it with a new (not second hand) one if in any doubt about the condition - otherwise every 10 years. Look for the British or European approval standard and make sure it has a BEAB (British Electrotechnical Approvals Board) safety certification mark. Ensure the blanket has overheat protection. Store either flat or rolled in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions - not folded
  • Ensure electrical appliances are switched off or are unplugged when not in use - unless the appliances have been designed to remain ‘on' e.g.fridges
  • Have the home's fixed wiring installation checked by an approved electrical contractor every 10 years

Open Fires

  • Provide a fire guard but do not place anything (e.g. clothes, newspapers) on the guard
  • Have the chimney swept at least annually
  • Do not hang mirrors over fireplaces. Clothing catching light has caused some horrific injuries

Portable Heaters

  • Position safely preferably by a wall and facing in to the room. Secure to the wall, if possible
  • Keep way from furniture or soft furnishings
  • Do not use to dry clothes.


  • Check that ‘soft‘ furnishings are fire resistant by looking for a fire safety test label

Bedtime Routine

  • Switch off and unplug all electrical appliances not designed to stay on
  • Check the cooker is ‘off ‘(grill, hobs, oven)
  • Make sure no cigarettes or pipes are still alight - and never smoke in bed
  • Make sure any candles or scented burners have been extinguished
  • Switch off all portable heaters
  • Place guards around any open fires
  • Check escape routes are clear and keys are in their designated place


Further advice can be obtained from:
- Your Insurance Company
- Your local Fire and Rescue Service 
- Communities and Local Government

Websites: or

Next Steps:

  • Source discounted products, available to Aviva insured customers and brokers only, via our Specialist Partners - click here to find out more about the savings you could make
  • View our Tools and Templates
  • Call our Risk Helpline on 0345 366 66 66
  •  Email us at

Please Note
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.

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