Avoiding accidental fires in the home
Causes of accidental fires
There are a variety of things that increase the risk of accidental house fires, and these are especially relevant to people who live alone.
The top causes of accidental fires in the home are:
- cooking or cooking appliances (including cookers, ovens, hotplates, grill pans, deep fat fryers, microwaves and toasters)
- electricity supply or other electrical equipment and appliances (including plugs, lighting and cables, washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers)
- smoking or smoking-related materials (including cigarettes, matches and lighters)
Fires from cooking and cooking appliances can be avoided by:
- never leaving cooking unattended - if you have to leave turn the cooker off and take saucepans off the heat
- 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
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
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’ 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 (think about extra alarms in the most used rooms such as living rooms and bedrooms)
- 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 fire escape plan, 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 this link:
If you’re planning to use an open fire you haven’t used in a while, make sure a suitably-trained person services your chimney beforehand.
Make sure any portable heaters and electric blankets you use are in good working order.
Make sure as well smoke alarms, you also have a working carbon monoxide alarm.
Be responsible and protect yourself, your family and your home from fire.
Also encourage them to get a free Home Fire Safety Check.
Home Fire Safety Check
Those most at risk from death or injury from accidental fires include:
- people aged 50 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 help from a visiting agency on a regular basis to help with day-to-day tasks
If you have any concerns about someone not having a clear fire escape route, a working smoke alarm, or other dangers in their home, contact the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
You can ask for a free Home Fire Safety Check for your client, family member, friend, or older neighbour.