Many fire deaths occur where there are either no working smoke alarms, or the alarms are not fitted to the Scottish National Standard.
The standard requires:
- One smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes.
- One smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings.
- One heat alarm installed in every kitchen.
If your home is on one level (a flat or bungalow) you need to fit at least two smoke alarms. If your home has more than one level, you'll need one on each floor, plus the living room.
All alarms should be ceiling mounted and interlinked.
You should also 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.
Looking after your smoke and heat alarms
- Take the batteries out, even for a short time.
- Paint over or put stickers on the alarms.
- Test your alarms by pressing the 'test' button.
- If it doesn't sound, fit a new battery.
- if it still doesn't sound, fit a new alarm.
- Replace the battery (unless you have a special 'long-life' alarm with a built-in battery).
- Keep it clean and dust free. Gently vacuum the inside and outside casing.
Every ten years
- Replace each alarm.
- The material inside alarms that makes them work gets tired as it gets old.
Research has shown that children can remain asleep when smoke and heat alarms are sounding. If there are children in your home your escape plan should include adults ensuring that any sleeping children have been roused from sleep.
For Further Information - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/for-householders/smoke-alarms.aspx
Telecare is a home safety and security system that allows residents to live independently, and provides the means of summoning assistance in times of need.
The system is monitored 24 hours a day by an Alarm Receiving Centre and if a sensor is activated, or the personal trigger is activated, then a trained call handler will take the most appropriate action, be it calling the emergency services or contacting a carer or family member.
Telecare Self-Check Online Tool
An online tool has been developed to help you find out what telecare services householders might benefit from and who to contact about telecare in your local area. The Telecare Self-Check Online Tool https://www.telecareselfcheck.scot/ has been developed by NHS 24, Scottish Government, NHS inform and local Telecare Services.
For Further Information - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/telecare.aspx
More fires start in the kitchen than in any other room in the house. Here's some advice to help you stay safe.
Cooking is a major cause of fire in our homes. It is best that you avoid cooking when you are tired, and if you've been drinking alcohol or taking drugs including prescription drugs that make you drowsy.
Do you cook with oil?
Modern electric deep fat fryers are much safer than traditional chip pans as they have a safety switch that cuts them off, helping stop them overheating and catching fire. Try not to use a traditional chip pan if you can as there's always a high risk of fire.
If you do choose to use one:
- Only ever fill one third full
- Turn the handle to the side - but not over any of the other cooker rings
- Fry in small amounts - overfilling could cause spills
- Make sure food going in it is dry, not dripping wet or covered in ice
Is your hob/oven/grill clean from excess grease or fat build-up?
Grease and fat build up can spontaneously combust if the temperature gets high enough. Keep your hobs and grills free from a build-up of grease.
Is there anything that could burn easily next to your cooker or hob?
Keeping this area clear of combustible materials like tea towels or kitchen roll will stop them catching fire.
Never dry towels near or on top of the cooker as even damp towels can easily catch fire.
Is your toaster stored or used underneath cupboards?
If placed under cupboards, shelves or other wall mounted units, the radiated heat from a correctly functioning or faulty toaster could cause a risk of vertical fire spread.
Are there any electrical appliances or cables near your cooker?
Heat from a cooker can easily damage electrical appliances or cables and cause a fire. Remember to keep appliances and cables a safe distance from your cooker. catch fire.
Every kitchen in your home should have at least one heat alarm fitted and linked to your smoke alarms as per the National Standard. Heat alarms are ideal for kitchens, the number one location for house fires.
- They are not activated by smoke, fumes or dust
- They are activated by heat
- They give you early warning of a cooking fire.
- If a cooking fire breaks out in your kitchen the heat alarm is likely to alert you before any smoke alarms in your home.
- They can also be used in garages, boiler rooms, lofts and other areas where there are normally high levels of fumes, smoke or dust
- The can help you avoid false nuisance alarms caused by cooking fumes for example frying food or burning toast
- They only cover a relatively small area of a room, so potentially several heat alarms need to be installed in a large kitchen.
For further Information - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/for-householders/kitchen-safety.aspx
Smoking and smokers' materials, such as matches are the number one cause of fatal house fires in Scotland.
Does anyone in your home smoke?
If you smoke, where possible you should smoke outside, at an open external door or open window.
Stub out all cigarettes and always empty ashtrays. Pour water over cigarette ends before putting them in the bin outside.
Does anyone in your home smoke E-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes should always be charged following manufacturer's instructions. Always buy replacement chargers from a reputable retailer.
Does anyone smoke under the influence of alcohol or drugs including prescription drugs?
Alcohol and drugs can make people feel tired and drowsy.
The NHS recommends not regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week. If you drink as much as 14 units a week, it's best to spread this evenly over three or more days. 14 units is equivalent to 6 pints of beer, 6 glasses of wine or 14 single measures of spirits. https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/alcohol
Do you use prescribed or over the counter medication?
If the medication you take is making you feel unwell, drowsy or unsteady on your feet then always speak to your GP or pharmacist for advice and guidance on their use. https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/preventing-falls/keeping-well/how-to-manage-your-medication
Does anyone smoke in bed?
Never smoke in bed and avoid smoking on arm chairs and sofas - especially if sleepy. Have a smoke alarm fitted in your bedroom for safety if you smoke in this room. Extra care should be taken if using emollient creams, home oxygen or air flow mattresses.
Are cigarettes, lighters and matches stored safely away from children?
Lighters and other sources of ignition can encourage children's curiosity if not kept in a safe and secure location.
If children or young adults have been showing an interest in, or have been playing with fire, then the SFRS Firesetter Intervention and Re-education Scheme (FIReS) has been set up to help advise schools, carers and young people of the dangers. Contact your local Fire Station for further information.
NHS Inform website contains information on the benefits of quitting smoking for yourself and those around you; and provides the support you might need to make your quit attempt a success.
For Further Information - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/for-householders/alcohol-and-smoking.aspx
Candles, Tea Lights, Oil Burners and Incense
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, tea lights, oil burners and incense in a proper holder - the heavier at the bottom the better to ensure it won't tip over
- Make sure they fit the holder tightly so it doesn't fall or get knocked over by accident
- Put holders on a flat, stable, heat-resistant surface
- Keep out of winds and draughts
- Keep 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 - 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
For Further Information - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/for-householders/living-rooms.aspx
A large number of fires start every year when sockets are overloaded or appliances are left on.
You should always be in the home and fully awake when the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher is in use.
Do you leave any of the following electrical items plugged in at night?
- Games console
- Mobile phone charger
- Plug-in air freshener
Switch off and unplug all electrical appliances not designed to be left on overnight as they could overheat and catch fire. Never leave appliances in 'Standby' or 'Sleep Mode'. Never overcharge mobile phones or use when charging.
Do you leave laptops/computer on overnight?
With more people being at home, extra care should be taken in children's bedrooms and parts of the home used for home working to ensure that they are switched off.
When you are using a laptop make sure it is placed on a hard surface. Soft surfaces such as beds or sofas could ignite due to the heat from a laptop
Do you use square block adapters/extension leads in your home?
Most people have extension leads in their homes, using 4-way bar adaptors to increase the number of appliances that they can plug into a wall socket.
SFRS does not recommend the use of block adapters and advises the use of a multi-socket extension lead with surge and overload protection.
- Ensure that extension leads are not joined together, known as 'daisy chaining'
- Never use more than one adaptor in each socket
- Ensure sockets are not overloaded. Appliances connected should never use more than 13 amps in total
- Ensure all cable reels are fully unwound before use
- Extension leads should have a fuse fitted and have an Intertek BEAB kitemark
Use this calculator on the Electrical Safety-First website to plug in some typical household appliances to see the effect on the load, and to get useful tips on how to avoid overloading your sockets. https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guidance/safety-around-the-home/overloading-sockets/
Does anyone in your home use electrical blankets?
Electrical blankets should always be used as per manufacturer's instructions, and stored flat when not in use.
For Further Information -
Portable equipment safety advice
Every year people die and are injured in their homes because of fires caused by heating appliances. Many of these fires involve portable heaters. Any type of portable heater can start a fire if it is misused.
Make sure you read and understand the manufacturer's instructions before using one.
- Turn off portable heaters before going to bed
- Always follow the manufacturer's operating and maintenance instructions
- Keep the heater clean and well maintained
- Ventilate the room in which the heater is being used
- Make sure that a permanent safety guard is fitted
- If a heater is to be used in one place for a long time fix it securely to a floor or wall
Whatever type of heater you use, DO NOT:
- Move a heater while it is alight or switched on
- Stand or sit too close, your clothing may ignite
- Place a heater too close to furniture, bedding or curtains
- Air or dry clothes over a heater
- Place heaters where they are likely to be knocked over
- Leave a portable heater on if young children or animals are left unattended
- Use flammable adhesives, cleaning fluids or aerosol sprays near a heater
Portable Gas Heaters
Accidents most frequently occur because of gas leaking when people are assembling appliances or changing cylinders or cartridges. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is butane or propane stored as a liquid under pressure.
A small leak can produce a large volume of highly flammable gas. The gas is heavier than air so that it collects near the floor or ground and can be ignited at a considerable distance from the source of the leak. If escaping gas is ignited in a room or other space there may be a fire and an explosion.
There are now many forms of powerful domestic heaters available which are fuelled by cylinders of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
- Buy a heater that carries the British Standard Institution (BSI) kitemark
- Ensure that the appliance is serviced regularly
- Change the cylinder in open air. If this is not possible, open windows and doors to increase ventilation
- Never change a cylinder on a stairway or other escape route
- Extinguish all sources of ignition, including cigarettes and pilot lights, and turn off other heaters and electrical appliances before changing the cylinder if it has to be done indoors
- Check that the valve on the empty cylinder is closed before disconnecting the heater. Do not turn on the valve of the new cylinder until the heater is securely connected
- Search for any suspected gas leak by brushing soapy water onto the flexible hose and fittings. If a leak is found, take the heater and cylinder into open air and do not use them until the faulty part has been replaced
- Store spare cylinders outside where possible. Never store them in basements, near drains, under the stairs or in a cupboard containing electric meters or equipment. Spare cylinder must be stored upright
- Buy a heater that carries the BSI kitemark. Never buy a second-hand paraffin heater as they can be dangerous
- Use only premium grade paraffin and never use other fuels
- Extinguish the heater and allow it to cool before refilling it. Wherever possible, refill the tank outside the building
- Fill the fuel container to just below the maximum level, to allow for expansion when the paraffin warms up
- Never allow paraffin to overflow or drip onto the floor. Clean up any spillage immediately
- Ensure the heater is standing level, preferably on a non-combustible base, and is away from draughts before lighting it
- Keep spare fuel outside the home. No more than 23 litres (5 gallon), and preferably only 9 litres (2 gallon) should be kept. Spare fuel should be in purpose made containers and stored away from sources of heat
For Further Information - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/for-householders/home-heating.aspx
There are over 1,000 chimney fires in Scotland each year. Making sure your chimney is swept and checked regularly can significantly reduce your chances of having a chimney fire.
Preventing Chimney Fires
- Do not light fires using flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin.
- Do not burn paper or rubbish on fires in the grate.
- Do not overload the fire with fuel.
- Use a spark-guard when the fire is unattended to prevent embers setting fire to furnishings or carpets.
- Go into your loft / roof space occasionally to check the chimney when the fire is alight.
Check for smoke or soot coming from cracks, defective brickwork or mortar joints. Defects in your chimney could cause a fire.
Only enter the loft if it is safe to do so and you are physically able to.
Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
- Make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed.
- Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained.
- Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector.
- In the event of fire, a smoke or heat alarm will alert you and give you time to react safely and sensibly. Make sure you have working smoke alarms. Consider fitting a heat alarm in your kitchen.
Taking steps to ensure your chimney is properly maintained can help make sure you, and your family, are safe from fire.
The type of fuel you burn will determine how often your chimney should be swept. Don't forget to give your chimney a clean sweep before winter as dust and debris can build up or blockages can occur if it has not been used regularly over the summer months. Make sure you use a registered chimney sweep.
The following offers a guide:
- Smokeless coals or oil - At least once a year
- Wood - Quarterly when in use
- Bituminous coal or peat - Twice a year
To find a certified chimney sweep, or for more information on chimney fire safety, please contact:
The National Association of Chimney Sweeps www.nacs.org.uk Tel: 01785 811732
The Institute of Chimney Sweeps www.instituteofchimneysweeps.com Tel: 01622 670333
HETAS www.hetas.co.uk Tel: 0845 634 5626
For Further Information - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/chimneys.aspx
Emollient creams are moisturisers that can be used to prevent or treat dry skin conditions like such as Eczema, bed sores, ulcers and psoriasis.
They come in a variety of forms: creams, lotions or gels and most contain paraffin. All cover the skin with a protective film to reduce water loss. They can make bedding, clothing and medical dressings very flammable, so are a fire safety concern, especially when used by people who spend extended periods in a bed or armchair due to illness or impaired mobility.
Check to see if the cream you are using contains paraffin. Some creams may already show a fire risk warning. Ask a health professional if an alternative cream which does not contain paraffin is available.
Change clothing and bedding regularly, preferably daily because emollients soak into fabric and can become a fire hazard. Wash these items at 60 degrees to minimise the build-up of impregnated paraffin.
When using emollient cream, it's best not to:
- Use naked flames or be near people who are smoking or using naked flames
- Go near anything that may cause a fire while emollients are in contact with their bedding, medical dressings or clothing.
- Take extra care when cooking
If bedbound and still choosing to smoke, use fire-retardant bedding and nightwear if possible, and fit a smoke alarm in the room used for sleeping. Ensuring that the areas around the person who smokes is free from flammable items will reduce the chance of a fire spreading should a cigarette fall from the smoker's hand.
Medical Oxygen at Home Safety
Medical oxygen is sometimes used at home by people with severe respiratory conditions. Oxygen therapy provides air that contains more oxygen than normal.
Unfortunately, the addition of concentrated oxygen into the room, or onto clothing and bedding, will greatly increase the intensity of a fire should one start.
When using medical oxygen your hair, clothes, seats and carpets can become enriched with oxygen. It only needs an ignition source, such as someone smoking or an electrical fault, to start a fire. Never leave the oxygen supply running when it is not being used.
Does anyone in your home use Medical Oxygen at home?
- Don't charge electronic devices (such as phones, tablets, laptops, electronic cigarettes or games consoles) in rooms where oxygen is being used or stored
- Use in well ventilated areas, keep internal doors open and store cylinders away from flammable materials
- Don't cook whilst using portable oxygen units
- Stay away from naked flames e.g. open fires, candles, lit matches, lighters or birthday cakes
- Never use oil-based creams and moisturisers when using or handling oxygen equipment
NHS Inform - Medical Oxygen
Air Pressure Relieving Mattresses Safety
These items are used for the prevention and treatment of pressure sores and ulcers that can be caused by extended periods of immobility. The mattress is filled with air by a pump which adjusts pressure according to the patient's needs.
If punctured by a heat source the escaping airflow could cause a fire which would spread rapidly. The emergency battery backup may continue to pump air which can cause a fire to burn longer.
Does anyone in your home use Air Pressure Relieving Mattresses?
- Never smoke in bed or near an air pressure mattress.
- Keep fires and heaters away from air pressure mattresses.
- Never use an electric blanket on an air pressure mattress.
- Never use candles, oil burners or incense sticks near an air pressure mattress.
- Never place hot items like hairdryers or hair straighteners on airflow mattresses.
- Ensure that electrical equipment is well maintained and kept a safe distance from airflow mattresses.
Follow this checklist as part of your night-time routine to reduce the chances of fire happening in your home and help protect your escape route if there is a fire.
Your night-time routine should include:
- Close all interior doors before going to bed. Each door can prevent fire spreading for up to 20 minutes, giving everyone in your home time to evacuate safely and call the Fire and Rescue Service on 999.
- Make sure escape routes are kept clear of anything that may slow down or block exit routes.
- Switch off and unplug all electrical appliances not designed to be left on overnight.
- Stub out all cigarettes and always empty ashtrays. Pour water over cigarette ends before putting them in the bin outside.
- If you have candles lit, remember to extinguish them properly
- Put fireguards around open fires. Don't build up the fire before you go to bed.
- Switch off portable heaters.
- Make sure the main door keys are to hand.
- Keep mobility aids and any methods of calling for help close to hand (e.g. mobile phone, link alarm/pendant).
For Further Information - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/for-householders/night-time-routine.aspx
Fire Action Plans
Wherever you are, it's important that you and your family know how to escape if there's a fire. It doesn't take long to make an escape plan and it could save lives, especially if you check and practice your plan regularly.
- Who's usually at home?
- How will they know there's a fire?
- If there are children, who will help them?
- If there are elderly people, who will tell them there's a fire and who'll help them?
- If there are people who can't see, hear or move around easily, who will help them?
- Where can you set up a safe meeting place away from the property?
Practicing your plan will help everyone to stay calm if there is a fire. It will also help you get to safety more quickly.
Research has shown that children can remain asleep when smoke alarms are sounding.
If there are children in your home your escape plan should include adults ensuring that any sleeping children have been roused from sleep.
The first-choice route of escape is always through the main door. Make sure you close it once everyone is out.
If it's not safe to leave by the main door, how else could you escape?
- Is there another door you could use or a fire escape?
- Could you climb out of a ground floor window?
- Could you climb out of a first-floor window onto a garage roof or extension and get down safely?
If Plan A or B are not safe, you might need to find somewhere to stay safe and await rescue. Make sure everything is ready so that you can:
- Go to a room with a phone and a window that opens
- Pack clothes and blankets around the door to keep smoke out
- Stay by the window and shout 'FIRE' for help
For Further Information - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/for-householders/escape-plans.aspx
What to do in an Emergency https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/for-householders/in-an-emergency.aspx