How to mitigate fire risks in your home

Smoke alarm for fire in smoky room in homeFires can start from the simplest of things: cooking, smoking, electrical appliances, romantic nights in with candles, chip pans, fireworks and flame-throwers.

Ok, that was a stretch of the imagination, but when you read through lists of fire hazards it really is simple stuff that causes the most unimaginable damage. Read through our basic fire prevention tips to make sure you don’t end up being a statistic:

Smoke Alarms

Yes, they’re really annoying when you happen to leave the toast in a little too long, but that just illustrates how useful they are. You obviously left the toaster on too long. A simple mistake that could happen to anyone – the toaster lies to us.

Those numbers on it are meaningless and it is the least trustworthy home appliance apart from the shower controls. According to government statistics there was no smoke alarm at 37% of home fires, and a further 25% where a smoke alarm was present but didn’t work. So get one, and check it regularly. It could save your life. Or your toast.

Careful cooking

Half of house fires come from some sort of cooking accident. If you ever had to do fire safety at school, you’ll recall we were always told about the chip pan fire. These are still a major source of call-outs for the Fire Brigade, but be mindful of leaving the gas hobs unattended or flammable objects like tea towels being near the heat.

Put it out, right out

If you’re of a certain age you’ll recall those Fire Prevention TV adverts – “Put it out, right out”. This was to highlight the dangers of falling asleep whilst smoking, or leaving burning cigarette ends. It seems like such a simple mistake, but it accounts for more house fire deaths than any other cause. Enough said.


Chip pan fires might be on the wane, but the new kid on the home fires block is electrical fires. We know that we’re not supposed to overload plugs, adding on more and more sockets and adaptors to accommodate our ever expanding gadgetry.

It’s understandable and we’ve probably all done it – who wants their XBox plugged in on the other side of the room to the TV?! Try and minimise the risk by making sure that you use lead adaptors, check that the there are no exposed wires, keep an eye out for flickering lights and frayed wires and service big appliances according to their fire safety guidelines.


A fire guard will prevent that lovely roaring fire from spitting embers onto the rug in front of the fire (there’s always a rug in front of the fire isn’t there?). Unless you have a really secure wood-burning stove, with tight shut doors, it’s best to make sure your fire is out before going out or going to bed.

Have your chimney cleaned once a year. And, please don’t make the same mistake as the author’s dad which could’ve seriously ruined Christmas… stuffing a pillow up the chimney breast to prevent draughts through the summer, then forgetting to take it out before lighting the first fire of the autumn… Yup.

Smoke alarms can save you money

If you don’t have smoke alarms fitted in a house, you might find that your home insurance costs more than similar houses nearby that do. For obvious reasons, insurers see properties with smoke detectors as slightly less ‘risky’.

So… what have we learnt?

1. Smoke alarms – annoying but life-saving.
2. Chip pans – probably best left in the 1980s.
3. Don’t fall asleep whilst smoking.
4. Clean the chimney out, including the pillow.
5. Don’t plug your straighteners, Xbox, washing machine, electric heater, TV, phone charger, computer, razor, lamp and toaster into the same plug socket.

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