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Winter Safety

Fire safety in the home questionnaire

During winter most of us will be spending more time at home. We want to ensure your home is as safe from fire risk as possible and would therefore encourage you to go through our questionnaire and follow our advice.

There are nine topics and once you have answered each question you will get some useful guidance.

On completion of the questionnaire, you can download a bespoke PDF file that provides additional information.

If you feel that you require further, more detailed advice, you can request a free Home Fire Safety Visit from our trained crews.


We want to make sure your home is as safe from fire as it can be.  During a Home Fire Safety Visit we’ll help you spot possible fire hazards, sort out a fire escape plan and provide information about smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms. The process only takes about 20 minutes, and their advice and help could save your life

Fire safety at home

Using portable heaters

  • Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.
  • Unplug or switch off portable heaters when you go out or go to bed.
  • Secure portable heaters in position to avoid the risk of them being knocked over.
  • 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.
  • Fit a Carbon Monoxide detector 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.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

  • Heating and cooking appliances fuelled by coal, smokeless fuels, wood, oil and gas can cause CO poisoning. 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.
  • Being able to recognise the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning will save your life.
  • These symptoms are similar to flu, with nausea, dizziness, tiredness, headaches, stomach and chest pains all key indicators.
  • Since October 2010, a carbon monoxide detector is mandatory with every new stove installation.
  • Remember a carbon monoxide detector is NOT a substitute for regular maintenance and chimney sweeping.

Wood Burning/Solid Fuel Stoves

Every year, we are called out to respond to a number of incidents involving these heating systems.

Chimneys and flues serving solid fuel appliances should be swept regularly. Check our chimney sweeping section for guidelines regarding the fuel used. Only use the fuel recommended by the solid fuel appliance manufacturer. Approved fuel lists are available from HETAS, Tel: 0845 634 5626 or visit Household refuse must not be burnt.

  • Use well-seasoned, air-dried (preferably a minimum of 6-12 months) wood. Use a wood moisture meter to test your wood before burning. A recommended moisture level for firewood should be 20% or lower.
  • Do not run the appliance at low output for long periods such as overnight. Do not damp down to save relighting in the morning.
  • If the wood burner has been used at a low output for a long period this should be followed by a controlled high burn for at least 30 minutes to dry out any creosote and to warm up the chimney again.
  • Always ensure you follow the operating and maintenance instructions provided with the appliance.
  • Do not stack logs or place any other combustible materials immediately adjacent to the stove, boiler or heater. The Fire and Rescue Service have been called to fires caused as a result of logs being stored against the hot external surface of wood burners.
  • Children should be educated about the dangers of fire and should not be permitted near hot surfaces.

Use a protective fire guard that is suited to the design of the stove within your property.

  • Empty and check the ash can every day.
  • Always use a metal non-combustible ash can.
  • Flue ways at the back of a boiler should be cleaned once a week, but always let the fire go out and allow ashes to cool before cleaning.
  • Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector.

Using electric blankets

  • Never leave an electric blanket switched on when you’re in bed unless it’s marked ‘suitable for all night use’.
  • Ensure your electric blanket is tested and serviced in accordance with manufacturer’s guidance, in particular after the guarantee runs out. Manufacturers often recommend testing blankets every 3 years.
  • Check the blanket, plug and flex regularly for damage (e.g. fraying fabric, scorch marks, exposed wires). If you’re in any doubt, don’t use the blanket.
  • Store electric blankets safely – roll them, don’t fold them.

Other home safety tips

Leaving cookers unattended or being distracted while cooking is the most frequent cause of fire in the home. Never cook hot food while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Make sure you have at least one heat alarm in the kitchen in your home.

Most fatal fires are caused by smoker's materials. Don’t smoke in your chair if you’ve been drinking or you’re feeling tired. If you do feel tired smoke outside or stand up and smoke at a window or outside door.

Check your smoke and heat alarms are working. Replace batteries if necessary.

Unplug fairy lights or other electrical Christmas decorations when you leave the house or go to bed. Find out more festive safety tips.

Extinguish all candles before you go to bed. Never leave a burning candle in a bedroom.

Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which can get hot enough to melt plastic. Always put candles on a heat resistant surface/holders.

Find out more safety tips at our Powercut section.

Fire safety at work

Follow these few simple steps to make sure your work place is fire safe this winter.

  • Keep your Fire Safety Risk Assessment under review and revise where necessary.
  • All staff, including temporary staff, must be fully aware of the fire routine for the premises.
  • For the safety of your staff and customers, ensure that all exits are kept clear excess stock.
  • Don’t allow rubbish to build-up and empty refuse containers regularly.
  • Secure bins away from buildings and avoid blocking fire exits.
  • Make sure security staff have keys to access lock-fast areas of your premises and that the keyholder list is up to date.
  • If your premise is fitted with sprinklers, ensure that the stock is not too close to sprinkler heads; this practice can make the sprinkler system less effective.
  • Check fire shutters and smoke curtains, if fitted, are not blocked by clothes rails or stock. Ensure your fire alarm system and fire extinguishers are maintained, and that fire alarm call points, signs and notices and firefighting equipment are free from obstruction.

Find out more on our road safety section