Top tips for protecting your home from fires.

House fires are among the biggest insurance risks homeowners face, easily causing vast amounts of damage in a matter of minutes.

But many fires are preventable. We take a look at some of the ways you can protect your home.

 Smoke alarm
Step 1

Fit the correct number of smoke alarms

Having a smoke alarm in your home isn’t enough. You need to have the correct number in the correct places and keep them in good working order. In an ideal world it’s recommended you have a smoke alarm in every room except the bathroom or at least one alarm on every floor. They should be fitted on the ceiling near to the centre of the room and you should be able to hear them throughout the property especially when sleeping.

If you only have one alarm on each floor, it’s usually a good idea to put it in the hallway between all of the rooms.

Smoke alarms need little maintenance, but regular checks could make all the difference if the worst does happen. Test your alarm and replace the battery every year to make sure it’s in tip top condition. Invest in new smoke alarms at least every 10 years. 

Step 2

Don’t leave candles unattended

Candles are increasingly popular home accessories, but if not used properly they become a fire hazard, rather than a way to bring a fresh scent into your space.

Make sure you only put them in holders specifically designed for candles - anything else may not be sufficiently heat resistant or sturdy. You should also avoid placing candles near furniture, curtains and books, and make sure you blow them out properly before leaving the room.

Step 3

Take care when cooking

More fires start in the kitchen  than any other part of the home, London Fire Brigade claims, so even if you’re a regular cook it pays to take extra care.

Keep tea towels, oven gloves and any packaging away from the hobs and try not lean over hot pans while cooking – especially if you’re wearing loose clothing.

It’s also worth keeping on top of your cleaning, as built-up fat and grease could ignite and start a fire.

It’s a good idea to have a smoke alarm in your kitchen, or just outside – so never be tempted to disconnect it when cooking in case you accidentally burn something and set it off.

Step 4

Keep doors closed at night

Fire spreads quickly and the further it travels, the more damage it causes. Keeping all your internal doors closed during the night will help to prevent any flames or smoke from entering other rooms, making it easier to get a blaze under control and minimise its impact.

Step 5

Don’t overload electrical sockets

Households today have more gadgets and gizmos than ever before, many of which need to be plugged in, and sometimes there just aren’t enough plug sockets, especially on older houses built before mobile phones, laptops and tablets.

Extension leads increase the number of sockets you have access to, but you need to be careful that the appliances you’re plugging into them don’t exceed the maximum current rating. For most extensions this is 13amps, but it could be less. It’s never a good idea to plug an extension lead into an extension lead – it may give you enough plugs for a full family’s worth of tech, but it is a serious fire risk.

Electrical Safety First has a handy calculator to test whether you are overloading your sockets.

Step 6

Look after your log burner

Make sure that your log burner is installed by a professional. It is important that you follow the manufacturer’s guides to the minimum distance required away from potentially combustible materials, and ensure you are using an appropriate fuel (hardwoods such as oak, hickory and ash are the best for wood burning stoves). Your wood should be stored in a cool and dry location; well-seasoned wood should have been dried for at least one year. Do not use treated wood, and do not use coal unless you have a multi-fuel stove.

Log burners need maintenance – make sure you get it serviced annually. It is important you get your chimney swept regularly; this will remove soot, blockages and built-up creosote. It is vital that ash is cold when you remove it - ashes are an extremely insulating material and can contain glowing pieces long after the log burner is put out.

Carbon monoxide detectors are just as important as smoke detectors – make sure you get both installed.

Step 7

Be aware of the risks of furniture

Make sure that you keep all forms of mirrors out of direct sunlight (they can reflect light onto curtains, clothing, paper or furniture and causes fires).

Avoid leaving glass objects, such as bottles and vases, in areas where they can be directly hit by sunlight (e.g. on a window sill).

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