Fire is an obvious serious risk, but that risk can be reduced by:
- Detection - smoke detectors and alarms give early warning of fire (smoke alarm information page)
- Preventing the spread - fire doors and self-closing devices reduce the spread of flames and smoke
- A safe escape route, a clearly marked, unobstructed escape route with emergency lighting provides a safe, quick escape from fire.
Within a house in multiple occupation your landlord has a responsibility to provide adequate means of escape in case of fire and to make sure that all fire precautions are regularly tested and maintained by a suitably qualified person, such as a NICEIC registered contractor or equivalent. The landlord must make sure that all residents and visitors are aware of what action to take in a fire.
If there's a fire:
- Alert people by raising the alarm;
- Contain the fire by closing doors as you make your escape
- Evacuate people, get out, stay out and call the Fire Service immediately.
- Cooking fat and chip pans cause many fires at home. Fire blankets should be readily accessible in the kitchen area and you should know how and when to use them. Do you?
Gas, Electrics and Faulty Appliances
Landlords must ensure that all gas installations and appliances are safety checked and maintained by a gas engineer on the Gas Safe Register at least once a year, and that copies of this report are available to tenants. Are you safe?
If you suspect a gas leak, contact the National Grid Gas Emergency freephone number immediately on 0800 111999.
Only buy second-hand gas appliances from a reputable dealer with a certificate of safety check. Faulty gas appliances can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning which can kill if undetected! Carbon monoxide has no colour, no smell and no taste, so it is difficult to detect. Watch out for the danger signs such as:
- Discolouring around a gas fire or at the top of a water heater;
- A yellow or orange flame on a gas fire or water heater;
- A strange smell when the gas appliance is on.
If you suspect that a faulty appliance may be leading to carbon monoxide build-up, contact British Gas immediately. You can buy carbon monoxide detectors from British Gas or from reputable DIY stores. For more information on carbon monoxide, please see our carbon monoxide page or for faulty appliances or buying detectors, please visit the website.
All work to electrical installations and appliances should be done by a competent person, ideally by a NICEIC registered electrician or equivalent.
- Faulty or misused electrics can cause fire or electrocution!
- Electrical wires or extension leads must not trail where they can be damaged, come into contact with water or be a trip hazard.
- Don't overload electrical sockets.
- Only buy second-hand electrical appliances from a reputable dealer with a certificate of safety check. Take care with heating appliances and with appliances where door interlocks are appropriate, such as washing machines.
- Thermostats for hot water supplies should not exceed 54oC (130oF) to avoid risk of scalding.
- Whether gas or electric, keep heating appliances away from flammable materials!
Furniture and Furnishings
All furniture and furnishings, whether new or second-hand, supplied in letting accommodation must comply with fire safety standards.
The fire safety of any other furniture or furnishings that you use yourself is obviously just as important. Checking whether or not an armchair, for example, meets the relevant standard is not easy but, if you are in any doubt, check labels and be suspicious of old items. For further advice, contact the Trading Standards Services on 0345 603 7626.
Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs
Careless smoking is a very high source of fire in the home - take care!
Alcohol and drugs can make us act less responsibly and make it more likely that we have, or cause, an accident - again take care!