Avoiding accidental fires in the home

Date published: 03 October 2018

There are basic fire safety measures you can take at home. Following some simple steps and being aware of obvious dangers can help to reduce the risk of an accidental fire and prevent damage and potential loss of life.

Causes of accidental fires

The top causes of accidental fires in the home are:

  • cooking or cooking appliances (cookers, ovens, hotplates, grill pans, deep fat fryers, microwaves and toasters)
  • electricity supply or other electrical equipment and appliances (plugs, lighting and cables, washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers)
  • smoking or smoking-related materials (cigarettes, matches and lighters)

Cooking

Fires from cooking and cooking appliances can be avoided by:

  • never leaving cooking unattended
  • turning off hobs and ovens when finished cooking
  • keeping flammable items such as tea towels and oven gloves away from the cooker 
  • keeping oven and grill pans free from a build-up of oils and grease, which can easily catch fire
  • never throwing water onto an oil-based fire

Electrical equipment

Fires from electrical equipment can be avoided by:

  • never overloading sockets
  • never leaving electrical appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines running overnight or when you leave the house

Smoking

Fires from smoking materials can be avoided by:

  • never smoking in bed or when feeling drowsy or tired
  • always stubbing cigarettes out fully in an ashtray

'STOP' fire

‘STOP Fire’ is an easy to remember fire safety tool for everyone to use.  It’s an instant checklist focusing on fire safety basics:

  • smoke alarms - make sure you have at least one working smoke alarm on every floor
  • test weekly - test your smoke alarm weekly or ask someone to check it for you
  • obvious fire safety dangers - look out for obvious fire safety dangers, stub out cigarettes, and never leave cooking unattended  
  • planned escape - have a planned escape, keep access routes clear, close all doors at night and have your keys at the ready

You can find out more about fire safety at the pages below:

Be responsible and protect yourself, your family and your home from fire.  

Home Fire Safety Check

Those most at risk from death or injury from accidental fires are:

  • people aged 60 or older
  • people who have a disability, impaired mobility or a health condition that would affect their ability to be aware of or respond to an emergency in the home
  • people who get assistance from a visiting agency on a regular basis to help with day-to-day tasks

That’s why Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service is offering anyone who falls into one of these categories a free Home Fire Safety Check

Firefighters will install or check that smoke alarms are working, help to identify any obvious dangers, and advise on an escape plan.

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