Keep your home safe

Here you will find advice on keeping your home safe from fire.

Due to the Government’s announcement on lockdown measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), more people will be staying at home. This is why we’re asking everyone to be extra careful to avoid fires and other accidents.

Please never attempt to tackle a fire yourself. Get out, stay out, and call 999. If your clothes catch fire, remember to stop, drop, and roll.

 

Cooking

  • Please try not to get distracted while you are cooking. This could happen if you have school age children who are now at home.
  • Keep flammable materials like cardboard boxes and tea towels away from the hob, as they can catch fire easily.
  • Grease and fat on the hob, in the grill pan, or in the oven can ignite and cause kitchen fires. Please clean them regularly to prevent this.

 

Electrical safety

  • Please remember to switch off any electrical items that you’re not using. If you use a mobile phone or laptop charger, don’t leave it plugged in and switched on when you’re asleep, or when you’re not using it.
  • If you’re working from home, please don’t overload your sockets with plugs from laptops, phones, PCs, or printers.
  • If you’re using a portable heater, don’t put it close to anything that could easily catch fire (bedding, clothes, soft furnishings, or curtains). Never use portable heaters to dry clothes. Always plug portable heaters into a wall socket, and never plug them into an extension.
Please click on the poster below to find out if you're overloading your sockets:
 
Electrical sockets - how not to overload

 

Smoke alarms

Please ensure you test your smoke alarms regularly - working smoke alarms save lives. 
 

 

Smoking

  • If you smoke, be extra vigilant.
  • With many children not in school under the current circumstances, it is essential that you keep lighters and matches away from them, as well as making sure that your cigarettes are properly extinguished.
  • Avoid smoking in bed, or if you’re feeling sleepy. It is safest to smoke outdoors.
 

 

Keep doors closed

  • When you leave home for essentials or for exercise, please close all internal doors.
  • It is important to do this when you go to bed too.
  • Closing doors can stop fires from spreading.
Below you will find national statistics about fires in the home:

  • You are four times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm.
  • 21 people die annually because the battery in their smoke alarm was flat, or missing.
  • Around half of fires in the home are caused by cooking accidents.
  • Every day, at least three fires are started by candles.
  • Every five days, someone dies from a fire caused by cigarettes.
  • Faulty electrics cause about 6,000 house fires countrywide every year.

 

Contact us

If you would like to speak to someone about keeping your home safe from fire, please contact us:
Protect yourself and your family from the devastating effects of fire by installing a smoke alarm today.

Safe and wellbeing visits

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service provides free safe and wellbeing visits and smoke alarms to members of the public who live in the county.

PLEASE NOTE: If your property is owned by a private landlord, they must comply with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations. Failure to comply could result in a fine of up to £5,000 for your landlord.

Please click here for more information about the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

 

Contact us

For more information, or to apply for a safe and wellbeing visit, please call us on 0800 731 1351, or email us at SWV.nfrs@northumberland.gov.uk.
Where to fit a smoke alarm:
  • every level of your home
  • away from kitchens or bathrooms where smoke/steam can accidentally set them off
  • approximately 30cm from the wall, on the ceiling
How to maintain your smoke alarm:
  • weekly tests (press the button until the alarm sounds)
  • annual battery changes
  • replacing the alarm every 10 years
  • never disconnecting or removing batteries
  • keeping the alarm free from dust
Different types of smoke alarm available:
  • standard battery operated alarms (this is the cheapest option)
  • an alarm with 10-year batteries (this is the best option for those who forget to check batteries annually)
  • hard-wired alarms powered by home power supply (required installation by a qualified electrician)
  • strobe light and vibrating pad alarms for those who are deaf/hard of hearing
We can supply and fit either standard 10-year battery alarms, or alarms suitable for those who are deaf/hard of hearing. If you wish to apply for an alarm, please contact us today.

PLEASE NOTE: Our smoke alarm and safe and wellbeing service may not be available during periods of industrial action.
Although fitting a smoke alarm is the first crucial step to fire protection in the home, planning an escape route is also extremely important for your safety.

Please click on the blue drop-down box below to find out how to plan an escape route in your home:

If there is a fire in your home:

  • Do not tackle the fire yourself.
  • Keep calm and act quickly – get everyone out as soon as possible.
  • Don’t waste time investigating, or rescuing valuables.
  • If there is smoke, keep low where the air is clearer.
  • If a door is warm, don’t open it, as there will be fire on the other side.
  • Call 999 as soon as you are out of the building.
Make an escape plan now:
  • Plan an escape route, ensuring everyone knows how to escape.
  • Keep doors and window keys easily accessible.
  • Make sure exits are kept clear.
  • Use the normal route in and out of your home.
  • Think of a second route in case it is blocked.
  • Practice your escape plan, involving everyone in the house.
  • Review the plan if your home layout changes.
What to do if your clothes catch fire:
  • Stop, drop and roll.
  • Don’t run around – the flame will worsen.
  • Lie down and roll around – it makes it harder for the fire to spread.
  • Smother flames with heavy materials like a coat or blanket.
What to do if your escape is blocked:
  • Get everyone into one room, ideally with a window and phone.
  • Put bedding around the bottom of the door to block out smoke.
  • Open a window and shout for help.
If you are on the ground floor:
  • You may be able to escape through an open window.
  • If not, break the glass in the bottom corner, making jagged edges safe with a towel or blanket.
If you are on the first floor:
  • As a last option, you may be able to escape through a window.
  • Use bedding (not a mattress) to cushion your fall and lower yourself down carefully. Don't jump.
How to escape from a high level building:
  • Avoid using lifts and balconies.
  • Check corridors are clear of flammable items like boxes.
  • Ensure doors to stairways are not locked.
  • Count how many doors you need to go through to reach the stairs.
  • Make sure everyone knows where the smoke alarms are.
  • Even if there is a warning system, have your own smoke alarm.
You are more at risk from fire when sleeping, so you should check your home nightly before you go to bed.

Please ensure you follow our bedtime checklist:
  • Close inside doors at night to stop a fire spreading.
  • Turn off and unplug non-essential electrical appliances.
  • Ensure the cooker is off.
  • Turn heaters off and put up fire guards.
  • Extinguish candles and cigarettes properly.
  • Keep exits clear.
  • Keep door and window keys easily accessible.
Around half of fires in the home are caused by cooking accidents.

Please click on the blue drop-down box below for fire safety advice in the kitchen:

If a pan catches fire while you are cooking:

  • Don’t take any risks – turn off the heat if it is safe.
  • Never throw water over a pan containing oil.
  • Don’t tackle the fire yourself.
How to cook safely:
  • Turn off the heat if you leave the kitchen.
  • Ensure pan handles don’t stick out, so they cannot be knocked off.
  • Avoid leaving children alone, and keep matches and pan handles out of reach.
  • Keep tea towels and clothes away from the cooker and hob.
  • Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing.
  • Double check the cooker is turned off when you are finished.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from water.
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from flammables.
  • Keep your oven, hob and grill clean.
  • Don’t put metals in the microwave.
  • Don’t cook under the influence of alcohol.
Deep fat frying:
  • Hot oil sets alight easily.
  • Ensure food is dry before putting it in hot oil to avoid splashing.
  • Smoking oil means it is too hot - turn off the heat and leave to cool.
  • Use a thermostat-controlled electric deep fat fryer as they can’t overheat.
Faulty electrics cause about 6,000 house fires nationwide each year.

Are you overloading your sockets?

 

Visit Electrical Safety First’s Overloading Sockets Calculator here to find out.

Please click here for more information about electrical safety.

Please click on the blue drop-down box below to find out how to take care when handling electricals:
 

Avoid electrical fires:

  • Ensure you are using the correct right fuse to prevent overheating.
  • Ensure electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark when purchasing.
  • High-powered electrical items should have a single plug to themselves.
  • Don’t overload sockets – keep one plug per socket.
  • Keep appliances clean and in good working order.
  • Be aware of dangerous/loose wiring or scorch marks, hot plugs, blown fuses, circuit breakers that trip for no obvious reason, or flickering lights.
  • Check and replace old cables/leads.
  • Items not being used should be kept unplugged.
Electrical blankets:
  • Store flat or rolled up to avoid damage to the internal wiring – do not fold.
  • Unplug before you get into bed, unless it has a thermostat control for safe use.
  • Try not to buy second hand blankets.
  • Check regularly for wear and tear.
Portable heaters:
  • Secure heaters against walls to stop them from falling.
  • Keep clear from curtains/furniture and never use them for drying clothes.

 

Every five days someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette. To avoid cigarette fires, please follow our advice below.

Please ensure you follow our checklist:
  • Ensure your cigarette is fully stubbed out, and disposed of carefully.
  • Use a proper ashtray, one that doesn’t tip over and is made of inflammable material.
  • Don’t leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe lying around.
  • Take extra care if smoking when tired, taking prescription drugs, or if you have been drinking.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
  • Consider child-resistant lighters and match boxes.
If you regularly clean and inspect your chimney, you can prevent a fire occurring. If you think your chimney might be on fire, evacuate the building and call 999.

The cost of a chimney sweep is small compared to the potential costs of a chimney fire.

 

Why should I sweep my chimney?

  • It reduces the build-up of soot, which may ignite.
  • It clears any potential obstructions caused by nests, leaves, and debris.
  • It reduces the risk of fire.
  • It reduces the risk of carbon monoxide build-up/poisoning.

 

How often should I sweep my chimney?

Type of appliance Chimney sweeping frequency
Solid fuel appliances Once annually for smokeless fuel, twice for coal
Wood burning appliances Every three months when in use
Gas appliances Annually, if designed for sweeping
Oil fired appliances Annually

Please click here for more information about chimney fire safety.

Please click on the blue drop-down boxes below for more advice on sweeping your chimney:

Common warning signs of a possible chimney fire are:

  • a loud roaring noise – massive amounts of air being sucked through the burner or fireplace opening
  • sparks and flames shooting from the chimney top (similar to fireworks in appearance)
  • glowing or shimmery outlets or connectors
  • vibrating appliances, outlets or connectors
  • flames visible through any cracks in the outlet or connector
  • smoke or smells noticeable in adjoining rooms or loft space
  • chimney breast or flue pipe heating up in either the same room, or others they pass through
PLEASE NOTE: This information should be treated as a guide only, as it is possible to experience a chimney fire without the aforementioned characteristics.

 

 
After a chimney fire

If you have a chimney fire, you should always dial 999. Afterwards, you may not be able to use the chimney again until a certified sweep has completed a thorough inspection to check for damage or if any repairs are required.
 

 

Reopening an old fireplace

If you are planning to reopen an old fireplace, seek professional advice from a certified chimney sweep.
  • Sweep before use if it has not been used for a while.
  • Ensure a fireguard is in front of the fire at all times.
  • Spark guards can prevent serious property fires.
  • Extinguish the flame before bed or leaving the house.
  • Never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire.
It is also good practice to regularly inspect the chimney breast in all rooms that it passes through (including roof space). Ensure sparks or fumes are not escaping through cracks, broken mortar, or bricks.

You can also help save your life, and those of your family and friends, if you make sure you have:
  • a working smoke alarm on each floor
  • a carbon monoxide alarm in any rooms featuring a working fireplace
  • an escape plan in the event of a fire

 

Wood burning

  • Ensure all wood burnt has a moisture content below 17 per cent, by buying seasoned wood from reputable suppliers.
  • Choose the correct size appliance: one too large will never burn all of the fuel contained in the wood. Any unburned fuel will pass up the chimney as smoke and condense as extremely flammable creosote.
  • If you have a wood burner, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on fuel loading and air flow.
  • If you plan to reopen an old fireplace, seek professional advice from a certified chimney sweep.
To find a certified chimney sweep, or for more information on chimney fire safety, please click on the links below:
Each day, at least three fires are started by candles.

Please ensure you follow our checklist:
  • Ensure candles are secured in a proper holder, and away from materials that could ignite.
  • Extinguish candles when you leave the room, especially before bedtime.
  • Do not leave children alone with lit candles.
  • Keep matches/lighters out of reach of children.
Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service works hard to keep people safe at home, on the roads and in the community. In order to do this work we will often need the name and address of our service users. To ensure people get the right services, we may ask for further information such as age and health requirements. This helps us to understand what peoples’ needs are and who else may be able to help.

We work closely with other agencies, and may offer assistance from other areas of the council such as health services, adult and children's services and may, for the purpose of making vulnerable people safer, share personal information with other agencies.

Other agencies share information about people with Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, where both parties have identified that the people concerned are at a higher risk from fire and other emergencies, particularly house fires.

For example; NHS England, the Royal College of General Practitioners and Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) in England work together to share information (where relevant, proportionate and necessary) to allow fire service personnel to undertake home safety assessments for those people who would most benefit from a visit.

The majority of fire deaths in the UK occur amongst the elderly population. Older people are most vulnerable to fire and a number of other risks. A Safe and Wellbeing visit from the FRS is proven to make them safer and can reduce risk significantly.

In one area of the UK where this work has been piloted since 2007, there have been very significant reductions in fire deaths and injuries which has developed into a current trend well below the national average. Therefore we know this work can save many lives.

The FRS and NHS will continue to work together in the future to ensure the visits undertaken by the FRS are effective in helping to make people safe and well.