Winter fire safety

Tips on how to stay safe in your home

As the coldest season of the year draws in, households across the country will be doing their best to keep warm. But as temperatures drop, the number of house fires typically goes up. Plug in heaters, electric blankets and Christmas candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire in the home.

Be careful with candles

Around 350* people are injured in candle fires in the UK every year.

Battery-operated candles are a safer substitute and can look just as good as the real thing. If you do need to use a candle, don’t put it near curtains, cushions or other flammable materials. And always make sure your candles are put out properly before leaving the room or going to bed.

Avoid heating hazards

On average, two* fires a day are caused by electric heaters. Portable heaters are popular in the winter as they keep rooms without heating warm and cosy. But they use a lot of electricity and generate a lot of heat, which means they can be dangerous if not handled correctly. To use your heater safely, put it at least a metre away from combustible materials such as curtains, furniture or an old newspaper. Never dry washing on or near it and always keep the heater on a level surface so that it doesn’t fall over. Always buy your electrical appliances from a reputable shop.

Blanket safety

Electric blankets are much safer than the ones produced 20 years ago but they’re still the cause of around 65* fires a year. Keep yourself safe by making sure the blanket isn’t switched on all night – unless it’s thermostatically controlled and switches off once it reaches a certain temperature. Also, never have hot water bottles or drinks in the same bed as an electric blanket to prevent mixing water with electricity.

Check that your electric blanket has the British Standard Kitemark and the British Electrotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB) symbol on it. These symbols mean that your blanket meets strict safety and quality standards. If yours doesn’t have these symbols, you should consider replacing it.

Test your alarm

The best thing you can do to protect you and your family is to test your smoke alarm once a month. To do this, press the ‘test’ button on your alarm. If there’s no sound, or your alarm is making a low battery warning beep, then call 0330 100 0272 and we will send a contractor to replace it. If you are a shared owner or leaseholder, you are responsible for fitting and checking your alarm.

*Source: National Statistics for fires in England published from by the Home Office.

More information on how to make your home safe from fire, can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/make-your-home-safe-from-fire