Fire hazards in the home can have a serious impact upon our lives, even though we may not always be aware of what they are. Some hazards are not easy to spot. This guide will show you what to look out for, and how to make sure your home is safeguarded against fire hazards.
Accidental serious fire incidents in the UK are caused by a variety of different issues ranging from faulty appliances and leads, to chip pan and naked flames being placed too close to flammable objects.
So, while ensuring your smoke alarm is tested every month is one way of keeping fire risk to a minimum, knowing the actual causes of fire that trigger alarms will help ensure the safety of you and your loved ones.
This guide will provide tips and helpful hints so that you take every precaution to be aware of fire hazards in the home.
Fire hazards in the living room
It’s no wonder so many fires begin within the cosy confines of the living room, with so many items of furniture, curtains and carpet mixed with candles, fireplaces and overloaded plug sockets. Here’s a handy list of what to check.
It’s easy to overlook fire hazards that you can't see, but it’s vital that household wiring is checked for signs of wear and tear.
A registered electrician should check the electrical installation of your house, however there are a number of day-to-day visual checks homeowners can carry out themselves, such as checking plugs and sockets for signs of damage. For more information, visit Electrical Safety First.
Many domestic fires in the UK arise from an electrical source.
Adaptor plugs and other household electrical products should always be purchased from reputable sources, to avoid sub-standard and potentially dangerous electrical parts.
Overloading electrical sockets is another fire risk and if extension bars are being used, the total amps should not exceed the limit specified (this is usually 10-13amps).
Most of us don’t think twice about placing glass ornaments or a vase on a windowsill, but it’s important to be aware that this can be a fire risk if your window is a sun trap.
Glassware can cause a magnifying effect on a particularly sunny day and if the sun’s rays become focused on a patch of carpet or curtains, this can cause a fire.
If dust builds up near electrical sockets or around heaters it can ignite and cause a fire, so the area around them should be vacuumed regularly.
As pretty as they are to come home to, fairy lights should be turned off when leaving the house as they can be a fire risk.
Romantic they may be, but ensure they are kept on fireproof surfaces, or in proper containers. Don’t place them close to flammable materials such as curtains and never leave them unattended.
Whatever type of heating you use, ensure there is plenty of ventilation in the room. Always light your fire correctly, place anything combustible out of harm’s reach and use a fire guard.
If you notice that wall sockets are becoming overloaded contact an electrician and install more. Make sure you unplug all unused appliances at night.
Fire hazards in the kitchen
Household fires often occur in the kitchen, usually started in a moment of distraction whilst cooking or by faulty electrical appliances.
Cluttered kitchens are another hazard to be aware of, particularly when tea towels and other flammable items are left too close to the hob.
A build-up of crumbs in the toaster not only creates a lot of smoke (and sets the smoke alarm off every time you try to make breakfast), but they can easily spark and cause a kitchen fire.
Deep fat frying
Those with a liking for fried food should invest in an electric deep-fat fryer with a thermostat, as a pan full of spitting, hot oil is not only dangerous to be around, but if it overheats it can easily cause a fire.
Try to keep cookers clean and free from a build-up of grease and replace extractor filters. Take extreme care when using chip pans and hot oil and never leave a chip pan unattended.
Keep work surfaces clean and free of wires from kettles, toasters etc. Ensure microwave ovens are regularly cleaned and never place metal inside.
Never fill the pan more than a third full of oil. Never move a chip pan when hot. Remember always to shake food free of water before adding to hot oil.
Fire hazards in the bedroom
Common causes of bedroom fires include overloaded sockets, clothes placed close to portable heaters, or children playing with candles, lighters or matches.
Electric blankets should carry the British Standard Kitemark and the British Electrotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB) symbol on them and should never be folded to protect the wiring.
Hair styling tools
Forgetting to unplug your hair straighteners or other styling tools when you’re in a rush can result in a blaze quicker than you might think. They should always be unplugged after use and placed on a heatproof mat.
You may not think a cluttered cupboard is a big issue, but hoarding is a major fire risk, especially if your storage cupboard has a light source. Clothing and other combustible materials can ignite in close contact with an exposed and hot light bulb.
There’s nothing like a candle to help you de-stress, but they should always be placed in a candle holder and at least 10cm apart. Never place candles under shelving or other surfaces.
Keep portable or space heaters away from combustibles such as bedding or clothing, and ensure it is unplugged before sleeping.
Charging items in bed
Mobile devices should not be left unattended to charge at night, and never leave devices charging on your bed.
Fire hazards in the garden
We love our gardens. Particularly during the warm summer months for sipping drinks and having barbeques. But fire can still start easily here, so maintain your garden properly to avoid these hazards.
Make sure the barbeque is set up on level ground and away from over-hanging trees or other combustible objects. Use approved fuel to light the barbeque and never use petrol or paraffin. When you’re having a Barbie, as a precaution, keep sand or water nearby to extinguish any flames.
If you’re lighting a bonfire, avoid days with strong winds. Keep fires well away from fences and drying clothes, and never allow cans, batteries or aerosols near fires. As a precaution, keep filled buckets of water handy whenever you light a fire.
Using the wrong fuels
There are many different kinds of fire-lighting equipment available to buy from shops. Don’t use make-shift alternatives you grabbed from the kitchen cupboard. Always use approved fuel to start a fire or for use in your barbeque. Get the right tools for the job.
View this handbook for more fire prevention tips and advice. If the worst happens in your home, and you need to make a claim with MORE THAN, you'll find the information you need on our claims page.