The biggest fire risks in the home
More than half of the house fires we attend start in the kitchen. The highest fire risks when it comes to cooking are:
- deep fat frying with chip pans. Be especially careful when deep-fat frying or cooking with oil because hot oil can easily catch fire. The safest way to deep fry food in oil is to use an electric, thermostat-controlled, deep-fat fryer.
- distractions – whether it is pets, children, or tv. If you’re not watching your cooking, it could burn and cause a fire before you have the chance to notice. Always keep an eye on your cooking, and turn off appliances when you’ve finished. Never leave cooking on when you’re not in the house.
- alcohol – drinking alcohol and cooking can be a fatal mix. Don't drink and cook.
2. Electrical fires
We attend around 60 fires each year which start from an electrical issue, such as a laptop or desktop PC, wiring, cables, or plugs. This includes chargers for devices.
- Always use the charger that came with your device and don’t buy a fake replacement.
- Charge your device on a hard, safe surface, and never on a carpet or bed (and definitely never under a pillow). Read a story about how a laptop left on a carpet led to a serious fire.
- Never leave a device charging unattended.
- Never leave hairdryers or hair straighteners on a carpet or bed. Unplug them after use.
- Extension leads generate heat so should be used carefully.
- If you need to use multi-socket adaptors, never use these with high-powered items such as kettles, heaters, or hair straighteners.
- Never use block plug adaptors – many of them are not fused and are a fire risk.
3. Faulty household appliances
We attend around 115 fires each year caused by domestic appliances.
- The most common appliances to catch fire are tumble dryers and washing machines which cause around 60 fires each year in Devon and Somerset.
- We attend around 12 fires each year caused by dishwashers, and 10 each year caused by fridges or freezers.
There have been a number of well-publicised product recalls for washing machines and tumble dryers. Check the trading standards website to see the latest product recalls. Fires caused by Hotpoint appliances have been well-documented.
Read a story about a family in Barnstaple who had a severe fire caused by their tumble dryer.
Reduce the risk of an appliance causing a fire
Never leave an appliance such as a washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher running when you are out, or asleep. If it starts to smoke or a small fire breaks out and you’re in the house, you can call the fire service who can deal with the fire before it develops. This will reduce the risk of it causing more serious damage to your whole home.
Use one socket per appliance. All of these appliances are powerful and use a lot of electricity, so should never be used with extension leads or multi-plug sockets. This will overload the socket and could cause a fire.
- Clear out the lint from your tumble dryer after every use. Follow the manufacturers’ guidelines for cleaning and maintenance.
If you are a smoker, you are at higher risk of having a fire at home. Smoking is the biggest cause of fatal fires.
Since April 2009 in Devon and Somerset, 23 fire deaths were caused by smoking. This amounts to one in three accidental fire deaths in the home.
- The best way to reduce your risk of fire as a smoker is to choose to smoke outside.
- Make sure cigarettes, cigars and pipes are properly extinguished when you have finished smoking and always use a proper ashtray on a flat and solid surface.
- Never smoke in bed. There are so many things that can catch fire in a bedroom – it’s just not worth the risk.
We respond to 20 fires every year caused by candles. Candle fires cause serious damage as they start with a naked flame and spread quickly.
It is safest to avoid using candles at all and choose safer alternatives such as battery-powered lights.
If you do use candles with a real flame, take the following steps to reduce the risk of fire:
- Put them on a safe and secure surface well away from anything that could catch fire, such as curtains, carpets, books and shelves.
- Put candles out when you leave the room and make sure they’re put out completely before you go to bed.
- Put tea lights in proper holders. The foil outer container gets extremely hot and can melt surfaces underneath.
What to do if there's a fire
Get out of the building, closing any doors behind you.
Stay out of the building.
Call 999 and ask for the fire service.