Fire may not be the most common reason for home insurance claims, but it’s certainly perhaps the most frightening, damaging and costly when it occurs.
Even though fire is an unlikely event, the potential for damage to property and life means that taking precautions is not just a good idea, it’s utterly vital for any home owner, perhaps especially for those with children.
Prepare for the worst
Measures which you can take to reduce the chances of your home going up in smoke are often quite simple. But even if they mean considerable additional cost it’s well worth it; statistics show that you’re more than twice as likely to die in a house fire if the house doesn’t have smoke alarms fitted, for example.
Here a number of tips to help you reduce the risk of fire occurring in your home:
Smoking – Don’t fall asleep on the sofa, or in bed (or anywhere really!) with a cigarette still burning. It seems obvious, but this is a very common cause of fires.
Candles – Use secure candle holders and never leave candles lit before going to bed or leaving a room for a prolonged period.
Electric blankets – If you use an electric blanket, don’t leave the house with it switched on keeping the bed warm for later, or if you’re actually in bed.
Using lighter fuel – Never pour lighter fuel, or other flammable substances, on a lit fire. Flames could jump back to the container and explode the contents.
Fireworks – If you’re setting off fireworks in the garden for a celebration, keep them well away from your house.
Fire guards – If you have an open fireplace in your home, make sure you place a fire guard in front of it when you light fires, especially if you leave the room.
In the kitchen
As the kitchen is by far the most common cause of fire in homes, take a great deal of care when cooking!
Hot oil – Don’t overheat oil when using it for frying, or cooking of any sort in fact.
Gas on/off – Always check gas knobs are turned to ‘off’ after use.
Clothing – Don’t wear loose clothing when cooking on a hob.
Children – Never leave children unattended in a kitchen.
Matches/lighters – Keep matches and gas lighters well out of reach of youngsters and away from open flames.
Microwaves – If you use a microwave, never put metal objects in it.
Kitchen electrical appliances – If toasters, kettles, sandwich makers, dishwashers etc. seem in any way faulty, have them checked out.
A home’s electrics
Electrical systems – Have your fuse box and electrics checked annually by a registered electrician
Cables and wires – Check for wear and tear and replace any damaged cables and wires.
Sockets – Don’t plug too many appliances into one socket, or have more than one extension lead coming from a socket.
Fuses – Don’t use the wrong-sized fuses in electrical items. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Tumble dryers – Ensure tumble dryers are clean of fluff and don’t leave them on when you’re out.
Check for the British kitemark – If you have smoke alarms, make sure they’re British Standard (the industry measure of quality).
Testing – Test your alarms regularly and change batteries that are running out and fix any alarms that aren’t working.
Place on all floors – Fit smoke alarms on all floors, not just in lofts or upstairs bedrooms.
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James is a journalist and digital editor with over 13 years’ experience writing and editing for media and finance businesses. He specialises in personal finance and economics, but also covers property, travel and news.