House fires can happen to anyone, and the effects can be devastating. While it is impossible to protect completely against every type of disaster, the sad truth is that most household fires are avoidable. Here are a few basic tips to help reduce the likelihood of a fire, and to give you and your family the best chance of getting out safely, if the worst was to happen.


Fire and smoke alarms

The vast majority of fatalities in house fires are caused not by burning, but by smoke inhalation. Most fires break out while the occupants are asleep, and many become overcome by fumes before they even have a chance to wake up.

Fire alarms are an absolute must to alert you and your family to danger before it is too late. Install them throughout the house, and make it a regular routine to check they are operational and their batteries are working. Your family’s lives depend on it.

Fire doors

Building regulations stipulate fire doors in shared spaces and certain other situations, and rightly so. They are an important component of your home’s overall fire protection system, and help to slow down or even prevent the spread of a blaze.

Fire doors give you and your family the best chance of getting out of the house in safety, so strongly consider fitting them throughout your home.

Check your electrics

As our lives become ever more entwined with our gadgets, we have more and more things that we need to plug in and charge up. It is easy to overload the electrical circuitry of a house, and electrical fires are on the up, with potentially tragic consequences.

Avoid the use of trailing sockets and adapters, as these can put excessive load onto a single power outlet.

Even if you think you are doing everything right, it is worth getting an electrician to check your wiring is safe and up to current standards. The danger is not restricted to overloading. Old and damaged wiring presents another hazard that can lead to fires, as can loosely fitted plugs, which can cause sparking and heat build-up.

Tidy up

We all tend to accumulate a certain amount of junk over the years, and most of it is flammable. Piles of old newspaper, cardboard boxes, toys and clothes can act as perfect kindling and turn an errant spark into a house blaze in no time.

They can also present an attractive home to vermin such as mice and rates, that like nothing better than some tasty electrical cables to chew through. Enough said, do yourself a favour and have a spring clean.

Engage brain

The most important piece of advice is to exercise common sense. From unattended candles to carelessly discarded cigarette ends, a huge proportion of house fires break out as a result of actions or inactions that any one of us might be guilty of, but that with hindsight we would all admit were highly likely to result in disaster.

Encourage the entire family to think about the potential consequences of what they do, and your home will be a safer place.