Last year there were 29,570 house fires in the UK, resulting in 164 fatalities. Locally, kitchen fires accounted for 297 of the 508 accidental household fires to which East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service responded during 2018, with firefighters also responding to 125 electrical fires in the home.
The most effective way to protect your home and family from fire is to have a working smoke alarm; at least one on each level of your home. You are four times more likely to die in a house fire if you do not have a working smoke alarm. Children also die quicker in fires because their smaller lungs get overcome by the thick, black, toxic smoke that can spread within minutes of a fire starting.
Make it part of your normal weekly housework to test your fire alarm. If batteries need replacing, or the alarm itself reaches end of life, it is crucial to do this as soon as possible. All major supermarkets, hardware and DIY shops stock smoke alarms and they are also available from retailers online.
There are many things we can do to reduce the risk of fire. As highlighted by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, the following six simple steps can go a long way to making your home safer:
- Smoke alarms – get into the habit of checking them regularly.
- Take some extra care in the kitchen – this is where 50% of all house fires start. Here is some advice about cooking safely.
- Check your electrics – make sure they are maintained and safe to use. Take a look at the following electrical safety advice.
- Smoke safely – smoking is one of the leading causes of house fires. Here is some advice on how to prevent a cigarette fire in the home
- Make sure you sleep safe – Families are almost three times more likely to die in fires that start in the night. A night time routine will help keep you and your family safe. Here’s a quick checklist.
- Plan an escape route – involve all family members so they know what to do in case of a fire. Create and practice your plan, starting here.
Teaching children fire safety is crucial to keep the number of people killed and seriously injured low. The best way to teach children about fire safety is by example. Let your children see you being sensible and careful about cooking, candles and other potential fire risks.
The service also offers free home safety visits – providing advice on how to reduce the risk of having a fire – for those at higher risk such as the elderly, those with reduced mobility and medical issues. You can find out if you are eligible by contacting the service on 0800 177 7069 or downloading a request form here.