Everyone loves eating al fresco and nothing beats a BBQ! But they can be dangerous if not handled responsibly, so it's important to keep safety in mind.
- NEVER use a BBQ – including disposables – indoors or on your balcony.
- Be careful where you put your BBQ – make sure it’s 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 BBQ – firelighters are a much safer option.
- Carefully supervise children – little ones can all too easily 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.
Did you know?
BBQs can stay hot for hours, so be really careful moving them. They also give off carbon monoxide fumes for several hours after they go out, so don't bring them indoors with you.
A warm glow, a delicate fragrance, a relaxing atmosphere… candles have become so much more than an emergency light source. But with their rising popularity comes greater risk of fire. Hundreds of fires each year are started by candles.
How to handles candles safely
- 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, do not 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.
It probably comes as no surprise to hear that fires are more likely to start in your kitchen than any other room in your home – in fact around 60% of fires begin in the kitchen. 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. See below for what to do if clothes do catch fire.
- 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.
What to do if clothes catch fire? Stop, drop, roll
If clothes catch fire, try and remember ‘stop, drop, roll':
- Stop – don’t run, you’ll make the flames worse.
- Drop – lie down on the ground at once.
- Roll in heavy fabric or a fire blanket to smother the flames, though just on the ground will help.
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.
- Do not 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.
- Do not 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.
Heaters and fires
Whether you prefer the blast of a portable heater or cosy glow of a traditional fire, check out our tips for keeping safe while keeping toasty.
- 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 and 6% of all fires are smoking-related? If smokers in your home can't give up, make sure they follow these top ten tips.
- It's safer to smoke outside, but make sure cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly.
- Never smoke in bed, and avoid smoking on arm chairs 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.