Advice and help to keep you safe in your home.
Electrical appliances around the home can cause accidents through electric shock and around half of all house fires in the UK are caused by electrical equipment. It's important that you understand the risks and get your equipment checked.
How to avoid electrical fires:
- make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it
- keep electrical leads and appliances away from water
- remember - one plug per socket - if you need more plugs than there are sockets, use a bar-type fuse adaptor
- unplug appliances at night or when you're not using them to reduce the risk of fire - unless they are designed to be left on all the time (for example, a fridge or freezer)
- keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order
Electrical Safety First (opens in a new window) has more advice on electrical safety.
If you have a wood or coal burning fire, or gas or oil burning appliances such as a boiler, heater or cooker, you should have a carbon monoxide alarm.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas produced when appliances do not burn properly. Even small amounts of carbon monoxide can cause serious health problems or even kill.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to a cold or flu and can include:
- loss of consciousness
A carbon monoxide detector will flash and sound an audible alarm if it detects carbon monoxide. You should install one in every room where there is a gas appliance, and the batteries usually last around five years. Carbon monoxide detectors are similar in design to smoke alarms and can be purchased from as little as £15 at many major retail outlets including DIY stores and supermarkets. When you buy a carbon monoxide detector, make sure it has the Kitemark and European Standard number BS EN 50291.
If you think carbon monoxide is present, call the gas emergency number 0800 111 999
A Gas Safe registered engineer (opens in a new window) should check your gas appliances every year.
You may be able to receive a free gas safety check from your supplier if you receive means tested benefits and there is anyone in your household who:
- has a disability
- has a chronic illness
- is of pensionable age
- is blind or partially sighted
- is deaf or hard of hearing
- has another type of special need
If you live in rented accommodation, your landlord will need to arrange an annual gas safety check.
The best way to protect your home and family from fire is with a working smoke alarm. You should make sure that your home has at least one smoke alarm on each floor.
Fire safety advice (opens in a new window) is available from the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. They also have advice on choosing, fitting and testing smoke alarms (opens in a new window). They also provide a free Safe and Well home visit (opens in a new window). Register on their website (opens in a new window) or call 0800 038 2323.
If you have hearing loss:
- you can get a smoke alarm which uses a strobe light and vibrating pads
- in the event of a fire, if it is difficult for you to call 999 yourself, ask a neighbour to do it for you
- if you have specialist equipment, such as a text phone or minicom, you can contact the emergency services on 18000
If you have sight problems:
- put a coloured sticker on your smoke alarm if you have trouble seeing to test it, or ask your local fire and rescue service if they can provide a coloured cover
- consider fitting bump-ons (also known as plastic blisters) to appliances as a way of making sure they are switched off properly
- unplug and then check electrical leads regularly by touch - if they are frayed or faulty don't use the appliance
- you may also want to consider placing a tactile indicator along your escape route to make it easier to find the exit
If you have mobility problems:
- if it is difficult to test your alarms ask someone to do it for you
- remote controlled or easy access alarms are available from electrical retailers
- Telecare equipment (opens in a new window) will allow you to alert someone in the event of an emergency
- make sure you have easy access to any mobility aids you may need, such as a walking stick
Everyone should feel safe in their own home. Here are some steps you can take to make sure that your home is as safe as possible:
- ensure you have a working smoke alarm in your home
- plan escape routes, keep exits clear and know where your door and window keys are kept should you need them in an emergency
- don't overload electrical sockets - use one plug in one socket and use an extension lead for additional appliances
- switch off appliances at the wall when not in use
- keep matches and lighters out of children's reach
- when using candles put them on a heat-proof holder or dish and keep them away from flammable items, such as wallpaper, curtains etc - never put candles on top of TVs
- never leave cooking unattended even just to answer the phone
- don't smoke in bed
- keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained - ensure your chimney is swept regularly
- if you have an open fire, make sure embers are under control and put out properly and always use a fire guard
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