With just a little thought and preparation, fire safety doesn’t need to be scary or complicated.
Who is responsible for fire safety?
That’s right - everyone! We’re all responsible for keeping ourselves, our families and our homes as safe from fire as possible. This includes being smart about the way we use heat and fire in our homes, making sure our appliances are serviced regularly, and knowing what to do in the unlikely event of a fire.
Around half of all home fires are caused by cooking accidents, and cigarettes and candles are big contributors as well. Just think how many fires we could avoid by always keeping an eye on cooking and candles, and properly extinguishing smoking materials.
Should you be worried about fire?
This is a bit of a trick question. Short answer? Yes, of course you should be worried about fire and you need to make every effort to prevent and prepare for a fire in your home. But the risk of a fatal residential fire is actually quite low and this number has generally decreased gradually over the past 30 years. There have been some exceptions, including the tragic Grenfell fire in 2017, which rightly resulted in a public enquiry and a series of fire safety recommendations.
So yes, you should be worried, but only enough to motivate you to think and act in a fire safe way in your home, and to be prepared for a fire should it happen. This includes making sure you’re familiar with your evacuation route, checking the batteries in your smoke alarm regularly, and choosing a safe meeting point outside your home or building.
Would you need extra help to evacuate?
If you or someone in your household would need help to evacuate if there were a fire, it’s so important that you have a plan in place. Here are some of the things you might like to think about and plan around:
- Are you less able to react to a fire alarm, due to a hearing impairment, for example?
- Could you unlock your front door unassisted if necessary?
- Can you use the stairs?
- Are there items or clutter in your home that could be blocking your escape route?
Remember, your local fire brigade may be able to come out to you for a home fire safety visit, to help you identify potential risks in your home and put together an escape plan in case a fire does break out. They also have a great home fire safety checker online, where you can get specific advice for your home or for the home of someone you care about.
And if you or someone in your household has limited mobility please let us know so we can support you better. This might be due to a temporary injury such as a broken leg, or a more permanent situation such as a chronic condition or disability.
How can you keep your home safe from fire?
By now you know that keeping your home and family safe from fire is about small, simple steps rather than big to-dos. Here are our top 5:
1. Check your smoke alarms
Make sure to check the smoke alarms in your home regularly, ideally once a week. You can do this by holding down the button on the alarm - if the alarm doesn't make a sound, you may need to change the batteries. If the batteries are tamper proof, check the expiry date on the alarm and replace it.
2. Keep an eye on your cooking
- If you’re using your cooker, please don’t leave children alone in the kitchen
- Keep tea towels, cloths, and other flammable materials away from your cooker when you’re using it
- Make sure your cooking appliances are switched off properly when you're not using them
3. Smoke safely in your home
- Use glass, metal or ceramic ashtrays that won't catch fire
- Make sure to stub out your cigarette properly and check it isn't still lit
- Never, ever, ever smoke in bed
- Please don’t smoke in communal areas - this has been illegal since 2007
4. Check and fix any electrical issues
- Regularly check for any hot plugs or plugs that have black or dark marks
- Check for any broken or loose wires in your home
- If you find electrical faults, please contact us to arrange a repair immediately
5. Careful with your candles
- Keep candles away from curtains and other flammable materials
- Never leave them unattended
- Use a candlestick or saucer so they don’t fall over
- Consider using battery-operated candles instead
- Check the terms of your tenancy as the use of candles is not allowed at some of our homes
How are we keeping your home safe?
Our priority is that our customers feel safe and comfortable in their homes, so we have a fire safety maintenance programme. This involves carrying out fire risk assessments on a regular basis in all our eligible buildings.
If your building has been identified as having issues with cladding and it’s over 18 metres in height, we may also install temporary safety measures such as heat detection alarms and ‘waking watch’ patrols of your building by trained staff.
And we will continue to work hard at inspecting and repairing where necessary our more than 500 buildings as part of our comprehensive Building and Fire Safety Programme. The programme is focusing on recommendations about cladding and insulation that resulted from the Grenfell enquiry.
Support for customers affected by building safety inspections
We recognise that you may have been under significant stress for some time and we want to support you as much as we can. The fire safety works needed following the tragic Grenfell fire in 2017 mean that many people are unable to sell or remortgage their properties until the work is complete. With thousands of buildings affected nationally this is likely to take some time.
With this in mind, we have arranged an independent health and wellbeing programme you can use any time of day or night. The service is free to use and includes counselling and emotional support as well as financial, legal and medical information.
More about building and fire safety
We have a dedicated section on our website about building safety, including frequently asked questions about building surveys and inspections, fire risk assessments, EWS1 forms, remortgaging and selling, and costs and funding. If you have any other questions please get in touch.