Scotland Fire & Rescue Service can help you assess your properties fire safety, below is information provided by them on how to react in the event of fire and preventative measures you can take to avoid a fatal incident.
What To Do In An Emergency
If a fire does break out the advice is simple: Get Out, Stay Out and Call 999.
Property can be replaced, people can't. Knowing the basics and having a fire action plan - where everyone knows what to do in an emergency - could save lives.
In the event of a fire, make sure everyone leaves immediately - call 999 and ask for the fire service.
Closing doors behind you as you leave the house will slow down the spread of flames and help protect both people and your belongings from fire.
- Stay low to the floor where the air is cleaner and cooler.
- Shout to warn our family or anyone nearby - even outside.
- If your clothing catches light, use a blanker, rug or thick coat to put out the flames.
- If someone else's clothing catches light, use a blanket, rug or thick coat to put out the flames.
- If you can't get out, stand by a window so firefighters can see you.
- Never open a door if it's warm to touch, there could be fire inside.
- Use a lift. Always take the stairs.
- Stop to take anything with you.
- Try to go back inside until a firefighter tells you it's safe to do so.
- Jump out of a window, unless you are sure it will be safe to do so.
Remember, smoke and fumes can quickly overcome anyone. Trying to tackle a fire or staing to salvage goods could prove fatal. If a fire does happen in your household, the only safe thing to do is get out the building and call the fire service.
If You Can't Get Out
- Get everyone into one room (grab a mobile phone if you can). This is your 'safe' room.
- When everyone's in the room, pack clothes, cushions, pillows, or towels around the door to keep smoke out.
- Open a window and shout for help until someone cals 99 for the Fire & Rescue Services.
- Stay at the open window.
- It you're on the first floor, you might be able to drop some pillows or cushions and then lower yourself from the windowsill. Only ever try this if you've no other choice.
- If you're leaving by a window and there are two adults, one should go first to catch children that are passed down by the other. Pass them slowly and stretch full length before you let them go.
- If you're on a higher floor, lean out of the window for fresh air until the Fire and Rescue Service arrives.
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?
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 for help.
Practice Your Emergency Escape Plan Together
Practicing your plan in advance will help everyone stay calm if there is a fire. It will also help you get to safety more quickly.
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.
- 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.
- Put fireguards around open fires. Don't build up the fire before you go to bed.
- Switch off portable heaters.
- Close all doors - it can keep your escape route free from smoke and may stop a fire spreading.
- Make sure the main door keys are to hand.
Alcohol and Smoking
In Scotland, most fatal fires are started by smoking. You can cut the chances of this happening to you.
Put It Out - Right Now!
Cigarette ends can smoulder for ages if not put out properly.
- Stub cigarettes out properly in an ashtray - make sure there's no smoke.
- Pour water on cigar and cigarette ends before putting in a bin - ideally an outside bin.
- Leave a cigarette, cigar or pipe unattended.
- Balance cigars or cigarettes on the edge of an ashtray or anything else - they can tip and fall as they burn away.
- Empty a pipe into a bin - the ember can still be very hot even if it's not smoking.
Using a proper ashtray is a good start to stopping fires from smoking.
- Empty and clean your ashtray regularly.
- Douse with water before putting the contents of the ashtray in the bin.
- Empty into a metal bin outside if you can.
- Keep paper, wrappers and other rubbish that could catch light out of your ashtray.
Alcohol and Sleepiness
Many fires started by cigarettes happen to people who have also been drinking and are sleepy.
- Take extra care if you've been drinking alcohol.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Don't smoke in your chair if you've been drinking or you're feeling sleepy.
- If you do feel sleepy; smoke outside, standing up or at a window or outside door.
Matches and Lighters
Starting fires is what matches and lighters are for. Make sure they only start the ones you want. Here's how:
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children, and away from heat sources.
- Teach children not to play with matches and lighters.
- Teach children to hand any matches or lighters they find to a responsible adult.
- Buy safety matches (ones that only strike on the box).
- Buy lighters with safety locks and that go out when you let go of them.
- Make sure matches are out before you put them down.
- Make sure lighters are out properly before putting them down.
- Don't throw used matches straight in the bin.
- Put used matches in an ashtray or a metal or ceramix plate and empty it regularly.
- Get a flameless 'spark' lighter to light gas stoves and heaters.
More fires start in the kitchen than in any other room in the house. Here's some advice to help you stay safe.
Every kitchen in your home should have at least one heat alarm fitted and linked to your smoke alarms.
Heat alarms are ideal for kitchens, the number one location for house fires.
- They are not activated by smoke, fumes or dust.
- Ther 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 level of fumes, smoke or dust.
- They can help you avoid false nuisance alarms caused by cooking fumers 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.
Even if you have working smoke alarms throughout your home, fitting a heat alarm in the kitchen is a great additional safety measure.
- Make sure your home has working smoke alarms and at least one heat alarm in every kitchen.
- Make sure your cooker is or has been fitted properly by a qualified fitter.
- Keep your oven, cooker and grill clean and make sure there's no fat on it.
- Keep tea towels, cloths and kitchen paper away from the cooker.
- Keep fats and oils away from the cooker.
- Cook with handles turned to the side to avoid them spilling.
- Use a flameless lighter on gas cookers instead of matches or a lighter.
You Should Never:
- Hang or dry clothing and towels on or near the cooker.
- Leave your cooker, grill or oven on when you go out - even on a timer.
- Leave electrical wires or cords near the cooker.
- Keep anything on top of an eye-level grill.
- Put anything metal in your microwave - even tin foil.
Chip Pans and Deep-Frying
Modern electric deep fat fryers are much safer than traditional chip pans as they have a safety switch that cuts them off to stop them overheating and catch fire. Try not to use a traditional chip pan if you can because there's always a high risk of fire. If you do use a traditional chip pan, follow this safety advice:
- Only ever fill one third full.
- Turn the handle on the side, bur 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.
You Should Never:
- Deep fry when you've been drinking alcohol or taking drugs or if you are feeling tired.
- Leave the pan alone - it only takes a second for a fire to start.
Other Kitchen Appliances
Washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers have powerful parts that heat up, any of which could start a fire if something goes wrong. Follow this safety advice:
- Always switch appliances off at the wall before going to bed or going out.
- Always put straight into a wall socket and avoid adapters for lots of plugs as they can result in electricity overloads.
- Never leave them running when going out or to bed.
Some of out most expensive and prized possessions are found in our living rooms. Furniture, cushions, fires, heaters and all our favourite gadgets like TVs and stereos can be potential fire hazards.
You should have a smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes.
Every two weeks a TV in Scotalnd starts a house fire. This is dangerous at any time but if you're asleep, it could be fatal.
- Make sure all electrical equipment is switched off at the wall when you leave the house or go to bed.
- Make sure your home has working smoke alarms
Remember you can request a free Home Fire Safety Visit.
Love your old, comfy chair? Older soft furniture can catch fire more easily than newer items and is often filled with foam that can create choking, poisonous fumes when on fire.
- Check furniture labels for safety information - if there's no label, it may not be very safe.
- Think about changing older chairs or having them re-covered with modern material that doesn't burn as easily. Furniture made before 1988 is unlikely to be fire resistant.
- Keep an eye on your chair covers and materials. They can help increase fire resistance so look out for holes or wearing and repair if you can.
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 in a proper candlestick holder - the heavier it is at the bottom the better because it won't tip over.
- Make sure the candle fits the holder tightly so it doesn't fall or get knocked over by accident.
- Put candlestick holders on a flat, stable, heat-resistant surface.
- Keep candles out of winds and draughts.
- Keep candles 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:
- Leave a lit candle alone - 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, 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.
Tea-lights are cheap and small but are just as dangerous as other candles so treat them with the same caution. Tea-lights come in their own little metal pots, which can get very hot. They can melt through plastic and have the potential to start a house fire. Never leave a lit tea-light unattended - even for a few seconds.
Essential Oil Burners
Most oil burners use tea-lights and should be treated as the same as any other candle. Always follow the instructions. Never leave a lit essential oil burner alone or use a cracked or broken one and make sure you don't let the oil burn right down - the burner could crack and the tea-light fall out.
Fire safety is particularly important in bedrooms - remember, if you're asleep, you will be slower to respond to fire.
Electric blankets must be checked regularly and used with care. They don't last forever and after their guarantee runs out (usually 3 years) they should be tested and serviced by the manufacturer. It might just be cheaper and safer to buy a new one.
Portable heaters can be handy in the winter to keep the cold off but they need to be used carefully - and, extra carefully if they're in the bedroom!
A smoke alarm placed near to bedrooms will alert you to a fire, even when you're sleeping.
Smoking in bed is definitely not recommended, but if you do, there should be a smoke alarm inside the bedroom. Remember to test all your smoke alarms every week.
Make sure your bedroom door is kept shut at night - it will help stop the spread of smoke and flames if a fire does start.
The most common cause of fires in the home is the misuse of electrical equipment, faulty applicances and leads. Domestic appliances including dish washers, tumble driers, cooking appliances and washing machines are a common source of ignition.
Electrical Products In The Home
We use electrical equipment every day around the house and it's important to make sure it is safe.
Any electrical appliances that are left plugged into the mains could cause a fire. Some, like fridges and freezers, are designed to be left on but even these can cause fires if they're not used properly. Follow this safety advice:
- Keep the area around plug sockets and the mains switch clear.
- Always use the right fuses.
You Should Never:
- Use anything with a torn or damaged wire or plug.
- Use anything electric that's broken or not working properly.
- Put electric cables under carpets.
- Put too many plugs in sockets.
Switching off at the socket and pulling the plug out is the only way to be sure no electricity is flowing through an appliance. Just using the socket switch isn't safe because the switch could be broken. If left plugged-in, many applicances still have power flowing through them even even though they look like they're off. The same is true of equipment in 'sleep mode' or on 'standby'. Lots of electrical appliances contrain transformers which retain power, even when the applicance is switched off. If a fault develops, the transformer could overheat and start a fire. As well as keeping you safer, switching off and unplugging things at the wall will save you electricity and money!
Appliances that have motors, pumps or large magnets in them can use up to seven times more power. So fridges, freezers, microwaves, washing machines, dishwashers, spin-dryers, vaccum cleaners, air conditioning units, dehumidifiers, power tools and gardening equipment should never be plugged into adaptors or power strips with other appliances (they could be too much for the adaptor). Plug them straight into the wall instead.
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. However, although there is space to plug in four appliances, this does not mean it is always safe to do so. Different electrical appliances use different amounts of power. To avoid the risk of overheating and possibly fire, you should never plug into an extension lead or socket appliances that together use more than 13 amps or 3000 watts of energy.
Never leave phone charges plugged in and do not overcharge your phone or leave it charging unnecessarily.
You can find more information on Fire Risks and Safety at the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service Website.