Home safety checks and alarms

Advice on what you can do to make your home safe, including advice for people worried about hoarding or cluttered homes and how to plan your escape should a fire occur.

You are four times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a smoke alarm that works.  The easiest way to protect your home and family from fire is with working smoke alarms.

Get them, install them and test them, they could save your life.  Helpful tips on smoke alarms are available within the ‘Fire safety in the home’ leaflet (Gov.uk).

Requesting a visit

In addition to the guidance provided below, you can make a request for a home safety check. You can also refer a friend or relative so if you know or care for someone who is over the age of 60 or who has a physical or mental health need that affects their ability to react or escape in a fire you can encourage them to contact us or refer them (with their permission).

We prioritise this service for those who are most at risk. Please remember to check the identity of any visitors to your home.

Partner Agency Referral              Request a home safety visit 

​We want you, your family, friends and neighbours to be safe from fire in your home. To help you do this, watch the following short video (courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service) which will highlight the risks in your home room by room and give you some advice on how to make it safer: Home safety video.

  1. ​Print out the HFSC Self Checklist (PDF 437KB) or open it on your PC, tablet or smartphone.
  2. Walk from room to room highlighting risks and use the advice points to make it safer.
  3. If you want further advice use your PC, tablet or smartphone to follow the links to more safety information on our website.
  4. Once you have done the check make sure everyone in the home is aware of the risks and what to do about them.
  5. Make sure everyone in the home knows the escape plan and what to do in the event of a fire.
  6. Practice the escape plan together to make sure it works and everyone knows it.
  7. Share our links and advice with those you care about it and help them to stay safe too.
  8. Visit our news page regularly to stay up to date with fire safety information.

If you have children why not make it fun and get them to help you spot the risks so that they develop an understanding about fire safety.

You are more at risk from a fire when asleep. Most fires start in the kitchen or the lounge, so it’s a good idea to follow the bedtime checklist below before you go to sleep.

If you store large amounts of possessions in and around your home, it means that a fire has a greater risk of spreading, and it may be more difficult to escape quickly. You can help keep yourself safe from fire by ensuring you have a fire escape plan (see next section).

If you feel that you need some help or assistance with the above, there are many organisations that will support you through the process free of charge.

For details, go to the Help for Hoarders website where you can also download a helpful tips leaflet provided by the London Fire Brigade

Fitting smoke and carbon monoxide alarms is the first crucial step to protecting yourself from fire. But what would you do if one went off during the night? Watch the video below (courtesy of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service) and follow the steps to help make you plan ready for an emergency: Make your fire escape plan

  • Make sure exits are kept clear. The best route out is the normal way in and out of your home. Think of a second route in case the first one is blocked.
  • Practice your escape plan. Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.

What to do if there is a fire

  • Don’t tackle fires yourself. Leave it to the professionals.
  • Keep calm and act quickly, get everyone out as soon as possible.
  • If there’s smoke, keep low where the air is clearer.
  • Before opening a door check if it’s warm. If it is, don’t open it as fire maybe on the other side.
  • Call 999 as soon as you’re clear of the building. 999 calls are free.

What to do if your escape is blocked

  • If you can’t get out, get everyone into one room, ideally with a window and a phone. Put bedding around the bottom of the door to block out the smoke.
  • Call 999 then open the window and shout “Help fire”.
  • If you’re on the ground or first floor, you may be able to escape through a window. Use bedding to cushion your fall and lower yourself down carefully. Don’t jump. If you can’t open the window break the glass in the bottom corner. Make jagged edges safe with a towel or blanket.

What to do if your clothes catch fire

  • Don’t run around, you’ll make the flames worse. Lie down and roll around. It makes it harder for the fire to spread.
  • Smother the flames with a heavy material, like a coat or blanket.
  • Remember, ‘Stop, Drop and Roll!’

For more information, please read the information within the ‘Fire safety in the home’ leaflet (GOV.UK).

  • Fit at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home.
  • Standard battery operated alarms are the cheapest option, but the batteries need to be replaced every year – remember to regularly test your alarms.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fitting the smoke alarm.
  • A heat alarm can be used in the kitchen instead of a smoke alarm. Instead of detecting smoke these alarms are sensitive to changes in temperature and so won’t give false alarms from cooking fumes.
  • Test all of your smoke alarms when you install them and then at least once a month by pressing the button until the alarm sounds.
  • If your alarms need batteries buy good quality ones, longer life batteries are better. If any of your smoke alarms have a one year battery, make sure it is changed every year.
  • Only take the battery out when you need to replace it; never disconnect or take the batteries out of your alarm if it goes off by mistake.
  • Testing smoke alarms tests the smoke sensor as well as  the power supply and/or battery
  • If the alarm does not sound when tested, the battery needs to be replaced; if the alarms starts to beep on a regular basis with no signs of fire, you need to replace the battery immediately.

If it is difficult for you to fit smoke alarms yourself, ask a friend or family member to help you.

Living in shared or rented accommodation

If you are a tenant and rent your property, your landlord or housing provider have a legal responsibility to ensure you have working alarms at the start of your tenancy. For more information, please read the information within the fire safety in shared or rented accommodation guidance leaflet (Gov.uk).

Smoke alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing

Strobe lighting and vibrating pad alarms are available for those  who are deaf or hard of hearing. It may be useful to consider if other types of alerters would also be helpful in daily living. Alerters can often be linked to one system rather than needing lots of different pieces of equipment.

Contact the ‘Action on Hearing Loss’ information line on 0808 808 0123 or textphone 0808 808 9000 or visit their website for further information.

You can’t see it, taste it or smell it but it can kill quickly and with no warning. Unsafe gas appliances produce a highly poisonous gas called carbon monoxide (CO). It can cause death as well as serious long-term health problems such as brain damage.

Carbon monoxide poisoning – what are the symptoms?

Common symptoms include headaches, nausea, breathlessness, collapse, dizziness and loss of consciousness.

Carbon monoxide symptoms are similar to flu, food poisoning, viral infections and simply tiredness. That’s why it’s quite common for people to mistake this very dangerous poisoning for something else.

Other signs that could point to carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Your symptoms only occur when you are at home and disappear or get better when you leave home and come back when you return.
  • Others in your household are experiencing symptoms (including your pets) and they appear at a similar time.
What is carbon monoxide poisoning?
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when you breathe in even small amounts of the gas.
  • When you breathe in carbon monoxide, it gets into your blood stream and prevents your red blood cells from carrying oxygen. Without oxygen, your body tissue and cells die.
  • Levels that do not kill can cause serious harm to health when inhaled over a long period of time. Long term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning include paralysis and brain damage.
Signs that carbon monoxide could be in your home
  • The flame on your cooker, fire or boiler should be crisp and blue, yellow or orange flames mean you need to get your appliances checked.
  • Soot or dark staining around or on appliances.
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out.
  • Increased condensation inside windows.

If you have a faulty appliance in your home, it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Get it checked as soon as possible by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Why should I get a carbon monoxide alarm?
  • Because carbon monoxide has no taste, smell or colour you should fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home.
  • While an alarm will alert you to carbon monoxide in your home, it is no substitute for using a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • A carbon monoxide alarm looks similar to a smoke alarm and is very easy to fit by following the manufacturer’s instructions. You can purchase a carbon monoxide alarm for around £15 at your local DIY store, supermarket or from your energy supplier.
  • Before purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm, always make sure it is officially approved to BS:EN50291:2001 or BS:EN50291:2010. It must have a British or European approval mark on it, such as a Kitemark.
  • You are particularly at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping, as you may not be aware of early carbon monoxide symptoms until it’s too late. Do not use the ‘black spot’ detectors that change colour when carbon monoxide is present. These will not make a sound to wake you up if the poisonous gas is present while you are sleeping.

For further information and to find a register of qualified gas engineers, please go to the Gas Safe website.

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