House fires are one of the most devastating things that can happen. So, how can we protect our homes and families from the worst?
- What are the most common causes of house fires?
- How can you try to prevent a fire starting?
- What should you do after a fire at home?
...make sure any mirrors or items containing lenses or glass aren’t facing the sun or left in a place where the sun can reflect from them onto materials or objects"
What are the most common causes of a house fire?
When it comes to housefires, the Government have revealed some shocking statistics…
- You’re around 8 times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm in your home
- Around half of home fires are caused by cooking accidents
- Two fires a day are started by candles
- Every six days someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette
- About three fires a day are started by heaters
- Faulty electrics (appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets) cause around 4,000 fires in the home across the country every year
We've got our claims data to back this up…
Over one year between 2021-2022, we saw house fire claims rise by 40%!
With more people using energy saving methods – whether that’s an electric blanket to keep warm or lighting candles, fire hazards are always present.
- Fires started from candles rose a whopping 1600% within only one month from November – December 2021 and accounted for the highest number of candle related claims seem for years.
- When looking at fire claims overall, electrical appliances certainly top the list and account for around 23% of all fire claims.
- Electrical appliances account for the highest number of fire claims, with electrical wiring issues the most expensive to fix, costing over £42k on average
- Coal and log fire claims have also gone up by 50%
- 94% of electrical wiring related fires occur in properties built pre-1992, before the British Standards Institute introduced wiring regulations, leaving homeowners at risk if mains electrics aren’t checked
- Cooking accidents account for 11% of all house fire claims, costing an average of £13k
Cooking - Fires start when your attention stops, so never leave your cooking unattended. Be extra careful when cooking with fat – it can easily set on fire. If fat gets too hot and starts to smoke, take it off the heat to cool down. Never pour water onto hot fat.
Plug sockets - Don't overload sockets with multiple plugs. More than one plug in a socket can start a fire, especially if the appliance uses a lot of power, e.g. a washing machine or tumble drier.
Electrical cables - Keep an eye out for scorch marks, split cables, exposed wires and loose connections. If you find any of these, take the plug out of the socket and have the cabling looked at by a qualified electrician.
Candles - Fragranced candles are a lovely way to perfume your home and create a cosy, relaxing ambience. Avoid leaving candles unattended or near flammable things like curtains or paper goods… and never leave them on when you pop out!
Smoking - Every six days, someone dies from a fire started by a cigarette. Don’t leave cigarettes alight and make sure you stub them out properly when you’ve finished smoking.
Open fires - If you have (or are installing) an open fire or log burner in your home, please let your insurer know. To manage your fire safely, always put a spark fireguard in front of an open fire and use an all-enclosed guard, too – especially if you have young children or pets. Do not hang clothes to dry or put anything flammable (like newspapers) on the guard as they’ll catch fire or get too hot to handle and could cause burns.
How can you make your home fire safe?
Buy approved smoke alarms for your home
Choosing the right smoke alarm is important. If you're not sure what type of smoke alarm is right for your home, you can always ask for advice at your local fire station. Depending on the size of your home, you might consider having more than one alarm. For the highest level of fire security, install a smoke detector in every room apart from in the bathroom and kitchen. At the very least, you should have one smoke alarm on the hallway ceiling of each floor of your house.
Check your smoke alarm works
It's easy to check if your smoke alarm is working properly. Simply press the button on the alarm – if it makes a sound, it's working fine. If you press the button and the test alarm doesn't sound, change the batteries in your smoke alarm. Ideally, set a monthly reminder for yourself to check your smoke alarm works.
Check your electrical appliances
- If your appliance doesn’t have an off switch, turn it off and unplug it at the wall when you’re not using it
- Don’t overload extension cables, and avoid using multi-plugs altogether if you can help it. Extension cables should only be used as a temporary measure
- Fit at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home and place one near your kitchen as a priority. Don’t forget to test them frequently
- Gas-powered appliances, such as your boiler, should be serviced regularly and checked for safety by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer in the garage. Most fridges don't run properly if the temperature surrounding the appliance is low
- When using lawn mowers, strimmers or other electrical equipment in the garden, check the socket you're using has been fitted with a circuit breaker in case you accidentally cut through the electrical cable
- Always read the instruction booklet for each household appliance to understand the safest way to use it. Most electrical goods also have descriptions, manuals and how to guides on brand websites
- Once you’ve read the manual, store it in safe place, or in a box file along with all the other manuals for your household appliances. Keep any receipts with each booklet
There's also a government and industry-supported campaign encouraging homeowners to register all their household appliances on a secure database: Register my appliance
This way, if there’s a safety recall on an electrical item you own, you’ll know about it straightaway and the problem can be sorted by a qualified engineer.
Safely repairing your appliances sooner rather than later could help reduce the risk of accidental fires in the home, avoiding the need to claim on your home insurance.
What should you do if there’s a fire in your home?
1. Make sure you and everyone in your home is safe and far away from the fire. Call the fire brigade straight away.
2. Do not go back into your home for anything, nothing is more important than you and your family staying safe.
3. When the fire has been put out, give our claims team a call and we will help you in every way we can
How can you protect your home from fires during Summer?
Sun’s out, burger buns out? We all love to BBQ when the weather gets warmer but if BBQs aren’t handled correctly they can quickly become a fire hazard. According to the London Fire Brigade, you should never use a BBQ indoors, on a balcony or in an enclosed space. They also say that you should position your BBQ on ground level away from anything flammable such as sheds, fences, trees or tents. Remember, don’t use petrol or any flammable liquids on your BBQ. Firelights are the safer option.
Keep mirrors away from windows
You wouldn’t necessarily think having your mirror near a window could cause a fire, would you? Well, the summer sun is higher in the sky which can cause sunrays to reflect off mirrors and start fires. Reflected light from the sun directed rays from magnifying vanity mirrors onto curtains which caused the curtains to catch fire. The Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service attended two house fires because of this in 2019, so their advice is to make sure any mirrors or items containing lenses or glass aren’t facing the sun or left in a place where the sun can reflect from them onto materials or objects.