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Fire Safety in the Home

Please note that the following  information is available on the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government website 

Fire Safety In Your Home

About 50 people die each year because of preventable fires in the home.  Every fire has a cause and most often, there’s a common-sense, simple method of prevention.  Careless attention to fireplaces, heaters, smoking and cooking equipment are leading caused of fire-death and injury.  The information below explains the basics of fire prevention in the home and what to do should a fire break out.  Remember, the age groups most at risk are the under 12’s and over 60’s  Let’s start with three golden rules.

1. Plan and practice an escape drill with your family.
2. Install smoke alarms to give you an early warning.
3. Survey your home to ensure that it is firesafe.

1. The Escape Drill – Automatic Safety

Most often when fire breaks out, so too do panic and error.  Things can happen very quickly and in a situation where seconds can save lives, you and your family need to be able to act without hesitation.  A rehearsed fire escape drill can make all the difference.

Your Fire Drill at a Glance

  • Together, plan two escape routes from each room.
  • Practice the plan until perfected
  • Close all doors behind you as you leave
  • The stairs are your primary escape route – keep them clear.
  • If your clothes catch fire – stop, drop and roll
  • Do not re-enter the house for any reason
  • Phone the fire brigade from a nearby outside phone
  • Decide on a meeting point outside the house near where the fire brigade is likely to arrive.

If you are prevented from leaving by smoke, heat or fire, close the room and seal all cracks with sheets or clothing or a sheet.  Always keep down on the floor where the air is cleaner and cooler.  Practice the drill every few months with your family.

2. Smoke Alarms Smoke - Turning an Enemy into an Ally

Most fires happen at night while people are asleep.  When there’s a fire, smoke will actually put sleeping people into a deeper sleep, it will not wake them.  By installing a minimum of 2 smoke alarms you will have early warning devices which give you time to act before you and your family are overcome by dangerous smoke and fumes.

  • Two smoke alarms, properly located, would suit the average home – you should only install smoke alarms manufactured to recognised standards.
  • Make sure that all smoke alarms are properly installed and maintained.  Test the alarms and their batteries regularly.

3.  The Fire Safety Survey - Prevention is the Best Firefighter

Most people think of their homes as a haven of safety.  The truth is, when it comes to fire, a lot of houses and dwellings are anything but safe.  Using this leaflet as a checklist, walk through your home with your family checking the following common-sense precautions.  Do the check regularly.

Living and Family Rooms

  • If you allow smoking in the house, provide large, stable ashtrays.  A burning cigarette end can smoulder for hours before igniting and spreading.
  • Are matches and lighters out of children’s reach?
  • Make sure you have an effective sparkguard at open fires especially before you go to bed and when children are about.  Clean chimneys at least twice a year.  Remember don’t leave newspapers, clothes or combustible materials too close to a fire or heater.
  • Check all electrical leads and plugs for deterioration, burning or fraying.  Make sure there are no over loaded sockets.  Switch off and unplug all appliances when not in use.  (These checks apply all around the house).
  • Portable heaters should be treated with care.  All gas and electric models require special attention and handling.  Do you know of any special instructions for their use?  Keep all flammable materials at a safe distance.

The Kitchen

  • Most domestic fires start here.  Having a fire extinguisher and fire blanket will substantially reduce the risk of fire spreading.
  • A clean cooker is a lot safer than a greasy one.  Treat kitchen appliances and electrical leads do not cross over cooker rings.
  • Develop safe and sensible cooking habits.  Keep saucepan handles turned in but not over other rings.  Take care with chip pans and hot cooking oil.  If your cooking oil catches fire, use a fire-blanket to put it out.  Do not move the pan or use water to extinguish flames.

The Bedrooms

  • One of the most dangerous fire hazards in the home is smoking in bed – it is high risk and should be completely banned.
  • Check electric blankets regularly for wear or damage.  Make sure they are used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Remember, switch off and unplug all appliances before going to bed.

Workshops, Utility and Storage Areas

  • Most garages and storage areas contain some flammable materials – oil, petrol, paint, adhesives, insecticides and chemicals.  Utmost care should be taken.  As many of these as possible should be stored outside the house in sealed metal containers.
  • Remove any unnecessary rubbish that might cause fire danger.


  • Get a qualified electrical contractor to carry our installation and repairs to electrical equipment and fittings.  Don’t take chances.
  • Take special precaution at holiday periods Christmas, Halloween.
  • Young children must never be left alone in the house, caravan, mobile home or car.

This information should not be regarded as an interpretation of the law on the subject.