There are more than 50,000 house fires each year in the UK, causing an average of 350 fatalities and 11,000 injuries – and most of these are preventable.
The government’s “Fire kills: you can prevent it” campaign includes essential advice about preventing fire and staying safe when fire does break out. And you can get further advice from your local fire station.
How to prevent a fire
Everyone should fit and maintain smoke alarms – at least one on every floor – as most fire deaths occur due to smoke inhalation while people are sleeping.
Plan an escape route should a fire break out and make sure it’s always clear, that everyone in your home knows about it and that keys for doors and windows can be found quickly.
Take extra care in the kitchen – accidents while cooking account for over half of fires in homes.
Take care with candles and, if you smoke, make sure cigarettes are stubbed out properly and disposed of carefully. Don’t smoke in bed. More people die in fires caused by smoking than in fires with any other single cause.
Don't overload electrical sockets or leave the TV and other electrical appliances on standby as this can cause fire. Getting the “before bed routine” right could save your life.
If a fire happens
If there is a fire, get out, stay out and call 999. Never use a lift.
If you’re trapped in smoke, stay close to the floor where the air is cleaner and cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth if possible. If a door feels hot, do not open it, as it probably means there is a fire on the other side.
Remember – never re-enter your home until the fire service has made it safe.
After a fire
There is a lot to think about after a fire.
You may need to arrange temporary accommodation. It’s advisable to contact your insurance company as soon as possible, as well as gas, electricity and water suppliers.
The Red Cross has a dedicated fire and emergency support service that can provide practical advice and comfort to the survivors of a house fire, and can help with temporary shelter and advice.