During power cuts fire and rescue services get called to house fires started by the use of candles, oil lamps and tea-lights and portable heaters.
Even during the day, smoke from a fire quickly makes everything inside dark and it’s hard to see. Imagine that at night, during a power cut. To help you stay safe:
- Take extra care during power cuts
- Keep torches and batteries where you can find them easily in an emergency
- Think about getting wind-up torches – they’re safe, cheap and never run out of power
- Turn off electrical equipment, except a light or a radio, so you know when power is restored. Switch off electric cooker hobs.
- If you suspect that there is a gas leak, turn off all appliances and the main cylinder valve, open all doors and windows and do not smoke or turn on any electrical switches or appliances until you have been given the all-clear. The power cut could end at any time.
Never use a camping stove, portable barbeque, lit charcoal or generator in an enclosed space as they are designed for outdoor use only. These devices require adequate ventilation and can produce poisonous carbon monoxide.
If you are using a camping stove outdoors, take extra care and never change camping gas cartridges indoors or near ignition sources.
Accidents involving gas and paraffin portable heaters most frequently occur because of gas leaking when people are assembling appliances or changing cylinders or cartridges. A small leak can produce a large volume of highly flammable gas. If escaping gas is ignited in a room or other space there may be a fire and an explosion.
Never use a camping heater indoors as poisonous carbon monoxide can be produced.
Only use gas or paraffin heaters in well-ventilated areas. Heaters consume oxygen and in enclosed spaces can produce harmful gases and/or cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.
- Switch off portable heaters when you go out, are not in the room, or go to bed.
- If possible, secure portable heaters in position to avoid the risk of them being knocked over.
- Carbon Monoxide detectors should be used in all rooms containing gas or paraffin heaters.
- Never use portable gas cylinder heaters in high rise flats
- Always change gas cylinders in the open air. Never change gas cylinders in an enclosed space.
- Never move a bottled gas or oil heater when it is lit.
During a power cut use battery-operated lights or torches as an alternative light source. Other options include a wind-up torch, glow sticks or a shake light. If you must use candles, make sure you follow these safety guidelines.
- Make sure lit candles are kept in candle holders and can’t be knocked over.
- Do not use candles as a light source when you are moving from room to room.
- Keep candles well away from anything that could catch fire, like curtains, cards, cushions, TVs or even shelves.
- Never leave a lit candle alone – even for a few seconds. During a power cut it may be tempting to leave candles lit around the house. But candles can spark, or fall over, causing a fire.
- Only light candles in a room you are using and if going out, or going to sleep, make sure ALL candles are properly put out first.
- Only put candles on a heat resistant surface or holders. Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which can get hot enough to melt plastic or ignite combustible materials.
If you use a gas or paraffin lamp make sure it is working properly and used in a well-ventilated area. If you want to subdue the lighting, a low wattage bulb should be used. Never position lights or bulbs near curtains and other fabrics. Never cover your lights with fabric as they can overheat and catch fire.
For more power cut fire safety advice – including how to prepare for a power cut - see our safety leaflets: