Some of our most expensive and prized possessions are found in our living rooms. Furniture, cushions, fires, heaters and all our favourite gadgets like TVs and stereos can be potential fire hazards.
You should have a smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes.
Every two weeks a TV in Scotland starts a house fire. This is dangerous at any time but if you’re asleep, it could be fatal.
Keep your electrical equipment safe:
- Make sure all electric equipment is switched off at the wall when you leave the house or go to bed
- Make sure your home has working smoke alarms
- Request a free Home Fire Safety Visit now to find out more
Love your old, comfy chair? Older soft furniture can catch fire more easily than newer items and is often filled with foam that can create choking, poisonous fumes when on fire.
Here’s what you can do:
- Check furniture labels for safety information – if there’s no label, it may not be very safe
- Think about changing older chairs or having them re-covered with modern material that doesn’t burn as easily. Furniture made before 1988 is unlikely to be fire resistant
- Keep an eye on your chair covers and materials. They can help increase fire resistance so look out for holes or wearing and repair if you can
Open fires and stoves
- Fit a Carbon Monoxide detector in all rooms where there is an open fire or stove
- Keep all furniture at least three feet away from your fire
- Put the fire guard up if you feel sleepy
- Let fires burn down before going to bed – and don’t forget to put the guard up
- Keep the guard up at all times if you have children or pets
- Have your chimney swept at least once a year - twice if you use it lots
- Check your hearth regularly – if it’s cracked, have it fixed professionally
You should never -
- Leave a lit fire unattended without a fireguard
- Use flammable liquids like barbecue lighter fuel to light a fire
- Throw flammable liquids or spray cans onto the fire
- Use building or packing timber as firewood – it’s very sparky
- Dry clothes over or in front of the fire – they could catch light
- Place mirrors over the fire – people stand too close and risk setting clothes on fire
For stoves, you should also:
- Replace any cracked door glass or casings immediately
- Always use certified fire glass in stove doors
- Use the right type of fuel (using coal in wood stoves can damage them)
- Be careful not to leave flammable items like clothes and paper on top of the stove.
You should have a carbon monoxide detector fitted in any room where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance (such as boilers, fires (including open fires), heaters and stoves) or a flue.
Did you know fires can accidently start in your chimney? Soot and fuel slowly build up in chimneys over time and sometimes these leftovers can catch fire.
If this happens, the chimney could send burning soot into your living room or start fires on other floors of the house. Even it doesn’t burn the house down, a chimney fire can cause a huge mess.
Signs of a chimney fire:
- Burning detritus falling out of the chimney
- A roaring sound in the chimney
- Chimney breast too hot to touch
- Hot walls in upstairs rooms
- Sparks or flames coming out at the top
What to do:
- Put the guard up
- Get everyone out safely
- Stay out
- Call 999
If it’s safe and only if it’s safe, put water on the fire and/or try to cut off the air supply at the bottom. You can do this by closing all vents and blocking the fireplace with a metal plate if you have one.
We all love using candles at home and they’re also part of many religious and cultural celebrations, but they can be dangerous.
Here is some advice to keep you safe:
- Put candles in a proper candlestick holder – the heavier it is at the bottom the better because it won’t tip over
- Make sure the candle fits the holder tightly so it doesn’t fall or get knocked over by accident
- Put candlestick holders on a flat, stable, heat-resistant surface
- Keep candles out of winds and draughts
- Keep candles clear of clothes, curtains, cushions, papers and other things that burn easily
- Always put them out properly before leaving the room – use a metal snuffer or wet your fingers and pinch the wick where the flame starts
You should never -
- Leave a lit candle alone – even for a few seconds
- Lean across a lit candle – you could set your hair or clothes on fire
- Place on soft furnishings (like cushions) or plastic (like TVs, baths that are made of plastic (acrylic). Even acrylic toilets can melt and cause a fire
- Put candles on shelves – they can heat up the shelf above and cause a fire
- Put them on top of heaters or in the middle of the mantelpiece. An unlit candle can melt in the heat below and catch fire
- Allow children to play with candles, lighters or matches
- Use them if you’ve been drinking alcohol or feel sleepy
Tea-lights are cheap and small but are just as dangerous as other candles so treat them with the same caution.
Tea-lights come in their own little metal pots, which can get very hot. They can melt through plastic and have the potential to start a house fire.
Never leave a lit tea-light unattended – even for a few seconds.
Oil lamps don’t drip hot wax, but they do contain liquid that can go on fire.
- Keep them away from other heat sources, like radiators and fire places
- Keep your spare oil in a proper bottle, away from heat and children
- Keep the wick properly trimmed
- Treat oil lamps as you would a lit candle
- Leave a lit oil lamp alone
- Use a cracked or broken oil lamp
- Fill them too much
Although there’s no flame, the burning embers of incense sticks or cones get very hot and can start fires. Treat them the same way you would a lit candle. Never leave lit incense alone and always use a proper holder that catches the ash.
Most oil burners use tea-lights and should be treated the same as any other candle. Always follow the instructions. Never leave a lit essential-oil burner alone or use a cracked or broken one and make sure you don’t let the oil burn right down – the burner could crack and the tea-light fall out.