Fire safety top tips


Everyone loves eating al fresco and nothing beats a BBQ. But they can be dangerous if not handled responsibly, so do keep safety in mind.

  • NEVER use a barbecue – including disposables – indoors or on your balcony.
  • Place your barbecue on level ground, well away from anything flammable like sheds, fences, trees or tents.
  • Don't use petrol, paraffin or any flammable liquids on your barbecue – firelighters are a much safer option.
  • Carefully supervise children – little ones may trip and fall, while older children might hurt themselves trying to help.
  • Be pet-aware – they can cause accidents by getting under your feet, so either keep them indoors or at least out of the way of the BBQ.
  • After cooking, barbecues can stay hot for hours, so take care if moving them.
  • They give off carbon monoxide fumes for several hours after they go out, so don’t bring them indoors with you.

A warm glow, delicate fragrance, relaxing atmosphere… candles have become much more than an emergency light source. But with their rising popularity comes greater risk of fire.

  • Always put out candles, incense and oil burners when you leave the room and before you go to bed. Double check that the flame has been extinguished.
  • Place candles in well-fitting, heat resistant holders on stable surfaces to reduce the chances of them being knocked over.
  • Keep them away from materials that might catch fire, such as furniture, curtains, piles of paper, books and your hair. At Christmas, don't place them anywhere near decorations.
  • Use proper holders for tea lights, which get very hot and can melt through plastic surfaces like baths or televisions.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.
  • Why not try LED candles? They are safe even if you fall asleep or leave them on.

Our homes become shimmering wonderlands at Christmas – but pretty isn’t always safe. Be wise to these festive fire hazards.


  • Place candles in proper, well-fitting holders on heat resistant surfaces.
  • Don't place candles near curtains, other fabric or draughts.
  • Leave at least a metre between the candle top and any surface above.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets and out of the way of clothes or hair.
  • Extinguish candles before you leave the room or go to bed. Double check that they have been put out.

Fairy lights

  • Check that lights conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598).
  • Use LED lights instead of traditional filament Christmas lights as they have lower voltage and generate less heat.
  • Always switch off lights when you go out or go to bed.
  • Don’t overload sockets with multiple strings of lights.
  • Don’t let the bulbs touch anything that can easily burn.
  • Always use the right type of fuse.
  • Replace blown bulbs.

Cardboard and paper decorations

  • Keep away from candles.
  • Don't fix to lights or heaters.
  • Don't place anywhere near a fireplace.

Live Christmas trees

When trees dry out they become a fire hazard, so make sure you:

  • Buy a freshly-cut tree with green needles that don’t fall off and a sticky trunk.
  • Keep well-watered.
  • Don’t position your tree close to a heat source.
  • Don't keep for longer than two weeks.
  • Never burn the branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove.

Around 60% of fires start in the kitchen – more than in any other room in your home. Follow our tips to reduce risk:

  • Don’t leave pans unattended on the hob or grill – if you have to leave the kitchen, turn off the heat.
  • If you’re feeling tired, have been drinking alcohol or are taking medication that can make you feel drowsy, it's safer not to cook and to eat something cold instead.
  • Loose clothing can easily catch fire, so take care not to lean over a hot hob, and always keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
  • Try to keep the oven, hob, cooker hood, extractor fan and grill clean. Built up fat and grease can ignite and cause a fire.
  • Use spark devices to light gas cookers. They are much safer than matches or lighters, as they don’t have a naked flame. They are safer around children, too.
  • Always make sure the cooker and hob are turned off when you’ve finished cooking.
  • Check toasters are clean and not placed under kitchen cabinets or close to anything that can catch fire.
  • Never put anything metal in the microwave.
  • Always keep an eye on children and pets in the kitchen: don't leave them unsupervised; put matches away; and keep saucepan handles out of reach.
Electrical appliances

Our homes are packed with electrical appliances that make our lives easier, better connected and more entertaining, but each is a potential fire hazard. Take the following precautions to minimise the risk.

  • Only buy electrical appliances with a British or European safety mark.
  • Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order.
  • Use the chargers that come with your phone, laptop or tablet. Buy genuine replacement chargers – never cheap fakes.
  • Don't charge devices overnight – over-charging can increase the fire risk.
  • Remove filter fluff from tumble dryers in line with manufacturer instructions.
  • Switch hair straighteners off after use and leave to cool on a heatproof surface.
  • Use one plug per socket, especially for products that use a lot of power, like washing machines, kettles or microwaves.
  • Don't overload extension leads and only use those with their own fused plug – not the plug-in cube variety. Always use the right fuse for the plug.
  • Register white goods so manufacturers can contact you if there are safety concerns about your product.
  • Share all your fire safety knowledge with the whole family.
  • If you spot signs of faulty wiring, such as scorch marks, flickering lights, hot plugs and fuses that blow for no obvious reason, get them checked out.

Fireworks and open fires are a big part of autumn and New Year celebrations, but with flames and explosives come risks.

  • Large public displays in communal spaces are the best and safest way to enjoy fireworks. Check your council website for events in your area.
  • Never set off fireworks or start fires anywhere near your property, including in garden areas and on balconies.
  • Reduce the risk of fire or damage from stray sparks by removing all combustible items from communal areas and balconies.
  • Keep pets indoors; many are scared by the loud noises.
  • Remind yourself of the fire and safety regulations for your building.
  • In an emergency, phone 999 and ask for the fire service.

If you are attending a private party:

  • Be aware of the Fireworks Code.
  • Always supervise young children around open fires.
Heaters and fires

Check out our tips for keeping safe while keeping toasty.

All heaters

  • Make sure heaters are well maintained and in good working order. Get older electrical heaters tested or replace them.
  • Always sit at least one metre away from a heater as it could set light to your clothes or chair.
  • Position heaters well away from clothes, curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.
  • Always use a registered professional to install, repair or service heaters.
  • Place heaters on a stable surface or secured against a wall.
  • Turn off your heater and allow it to cool before moving it.

Gas fires and biofuel heaters

  • Change gas heater cylinders outside, where possible, or in a well-ventilated room.
  • Store spare propane or oxygen cylinders upright and outside whenever possible. Never keep them in basements, under stairs or in cupboards containing electric meters or equipment.
  • Ensure empty cylinders are collected regularly.
  • Fireboxes and containers should always be placed on a stable surface. When using biofuel always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions.
  • Don’t keep too much fuel, such as paraffin or biofuel, at home and store safely.
  • Never add fuel to a burning fire, or refill a firebox fuel container that is still hot.

A quarter of all fire deaths are smoking-related. If smokers in your home can't give up, make sure they follow these tips.

  • It's safer to smoke outside, but make sure cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly. Don't discard them off balconies as it risks causing damage to properties below you.
  • Never smoke in bed, and avoid smoking on armchairs and sofas, especially if you think you might fall asleep.
  • Take extra care when you’re tired, taking prescription drugs or if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
  • Use proper ashtrays, which can’t tip over, and stub cigarettes out properly.
  • Don't balance cigars or cigarettes on the edge of an ashtray or anything else – they can tip and fall as they burn away and cause a fire.
  • Don’t leave lit pipes or cigarettes unattended.
  • Always empty ashtrays carefully. Make sure smoking materials are right out, cold and preferably wet them before throwing into a bin – never use a wastepaper basket.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach, and buy child resistant lighters.
  • Never smoke if you use healthcare equipment like medical oxygen or an air flow pressure relief mattress. If you use paraffin-based emollient creams, ask for non-flammable alternatives instead.
  • Consider additional safety measures such as fire-retardant bedding or nightwear.