A fire in the home can cause devastating damage both structurally and emotionally, it can also cost lives
Using the advice given by the Fire Service, we have created this guide to help you stay safe and prevent fires starting at home.
Aside from the most important piece of advice - to focus on getting out of the burning building - this guide explains how to reduce the risks of your home catching fire in the first place.
A smoke alarm could save your life. They're so ingrained in our lives many people don't even think about them or notice if they're there, but having smoke alarms at home could mean the difference between life and death.
There are lots of different types to choose from and your local fire and rescue service will be happy to give you advice on which one is best suited for you.
Think about where you install them. The best places for smoke alarms are in the middle of a room, in the hallway and on the landing. It's best to have them spread throughout your home so you can hear them in every room.
You should try to avoid installing them in, or directly outside the kitchen or bathroom as smoke or steam could result in them being accidentally set off.
Make sure your alarm works. It may go without saying, but no matter how many smoke alarms you have around the home, they will only help if the batteries work.
You should regularly test your alarms. Standard battery operated alarms need the batteries changed once a year.
Check your policy schedule. This will lay out any precautions you must take, for example, if you live in thatched property you will need to install fire extinguishers.
Plan an escape route for the family. Have a family meeting and discuss how you would get out if the worst were to happen. Arrange a meeting point whether in the street outside or the garden.
Keep all doorways clear. Always make sure exits are clear so that if a speedy escape was required there wouldn't be obstacles to get around.
In the kitchen
According to the Fire Service, around half of home fires are caused by cooking accidents.
Keep the oven and hob clean. Don't let food and fat build up on the oven, hob or grill or you risk them starting to burn and causing a fire.
Don't leave children in the kitchen alone. Turn saucepan handles towards the hob so little hands can't reach up to grab at them.
Be careful of loose clothing. Wear short sleeves or roll them up and don't leave oven gloves or tea towels hanging near the hob.
Buy a fire blanket for your kitchen. Be careful when deep fat frying, hot cooking oil sets alight easily, if oil starts to smoke it's too hot, turn off the heat and leave it to cool.
If a pan catches fire don't take any risks, turn off the heat and if safe to do so, cover with a fire blanket. Never throw water over it. Don't try to tackle the fire yourself, just get yourself to safety and call 999.
In the rest of the home
Don't overload sockets. When it comes to appliances like washing machines and tumble dryers make sure they have a socket to themselves as they are very high powered.
Clear the filters of your washing machine and tumble dryer regularly to prevent build up of fabric deposits and unplug them when they aren't being used.
Don't leave electrical devices on if they don't need to be. Leaving the television on standby increases to chances of an electrical fire starting, just turn it off. Try to avoid leaving the washing machine and dryer on overnight.
Don't leave electric blankets on while you're out of the house. Make sure you either store them flat or rolled up as folding them could damage the internal wiring. Regularly check them for wear and tear and never use them with a hot water bottle.
Keep portable heaters upright. Try to keep them secured against a wall and on a flat surface to stop them falling over. Make sure they are kept away from curtains and furniture and never dry clothes on them. Make sure your furniture has a fire-resistant label.
Keep matches out of the reach of children. If you have matches of lighters in the house make sure they are kept out of the sight and reach of your curious little angels. If you do smoke, make sure cigarettes are stubbed out properly in an ashtray, never in a wastepaper basket.
Be careful with candles. Lovely as a candlelit room may be, flaming curtains aren't so great, so make sure to keep candles away from curtains and other upholstery. Put them out if you leave the room and make sure they are all out before heading to bed.
What to do if you're making a claim
If your home and contents are damaged by fire you will need to contact us.
- Ventilate the property by opening windows and doors as best as possible to allow fresh air to circulate
- Don't use gas or electricity until they have been checked by a professional
- Don't throw away anything until a full inventory of damaged items has been taken
- If possible take photographs of the damage
- If the electricity is off, remove food from fridges and freezers and list all items
- Unless the smoke damage is very localised it is probably best to leave any cleaning attempts to professional cleaners. For example we can instruct a restoration company to handle the clean up
- If the damage is extensive and there is any danger of collapse, or if there are any health risks, vacate the premises. If you do have to vacate the property please leave it as secure as possible
- If you haven't done so already then please contact our Claims Department to report the claim. We will confirm the level of cover available to you, and in most cases we will instruct a loss adjuster and other specialists to project manage the repair work to your home
Household Claims Department telephone number: 0333 220 2035