Throughout the year we carry out regular checks and maintenance of any installed fire safety features to make sure everything is working as it should be – things such as gas safety checks and fire safety inspections in common areas.
It is important that we work together on fire safety issues. Please follow this guidance to make sure that you are helping to keep yourself, your family and your neighbours safe.
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Follow this advice to help keep safe in your home:
If you have a smoke detector in your home you should regularly check that it is working. If it is battery operated you should also change the batteries when necessary.
Vacuuming your smoke alarm will remove dust and dirt that can stop it from working. If you are concerned that your smoke alarm may not work, you need to contact us as soon as possible.
In the kitchen
Most fires start in kitchens, so make sure yours is safe.
- A major cause of fire is the build-up of fat and oil in pans, as it can easily ignite when heated. Clean your pans regularly.
- If a pan catches fire do not attempt to move it. Only turn off the heat if it is safe to do so.
- Never use water on an oil pan fire. Water will expand the oil and make the fire worse.
- Do not leave cooking unattended. Take pans off the heat or turn the heat down if you are called away from the cooker and turn the cooker off when you are not using it.
- Alcohol and some medicines can make you feel drowsy or impair your judgement. If you have been drinking alcohol and/or taking medicines that have this effect, you should avoid using cooking appliances.
Preventing electrical fires
- Make sure electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark when you buy them.
- Keep to one plug per socket, especially for high-powered appliances like washing machines and freezers.
- Do not overload freezers or fridge freezers, especially older models.
- Electrical leads should not be run under carpets as damages will go unseen. Do not use damaged cables or plugs – throw them away straight away.
- Unplug appliances when you’re not using them and also when you are asleep, to help reduce the risk of fire.
- Don’t charge mobile phones when you’re asleep, especially on your bed or under your pillow. Batteries can overheat and catch fire.
- If you have a tumble dryer, make sure to regularly remove the fluff that accumulates.
- If you use a portable heater, use an oil filled one instead of a halogen, bar or convector heater.
- Always keep clothes, curtains and furniture well away from heaters.
- Keep an eye on the Electrical Safety First page where you can register your appliances and check for any product recalls.
If you have a balcony
We want you to enjoy use of your balcony, but we want you to do this safely. We expect all our customers to take the following simple steps:
- Keep your balcony free of any flammable items and materials. For example, you may be surprised to hear that a kilo of plastic is equivalent to a kilo of fuel, which is why we ask you to limit the amount of storage you have there. Flammable materials include items such as large storage boxes, cushions, small balcony sheds, tins of paint, and electrical appliances such as dryers and fridges, etc.
- Never store gas cylinders on your balcony. There is a risk they may explode if they are left in the sun, even in winter.
- Never use barbecues, chimineas, fire pits or patio heaters on your balcony. Fires caused by these types of items can spread very quickly to the balcony above and below. They could also spread quickly into your property if doors or windows are left open.
- Do not smoke on a balcony or allow guests to do so. If you do not follow this advice, then it is really important that you stub cigarettes out in a closed metal ashtray. Do not drop cigarettes on or over the side of the balcony, as this can cause a fire.
- Never use or store fireworks on your balcony (or anywhere in your home). If you have fireworks that you no longer want, some fire services will collect them free of charge and arrange to dispose of them safely.
- If the balcony is a communal balcony it may be a fire escape route and therefore should be kept clear of any items at all times so you and your neighbours can get out safely if you need to.
Last year thousands of fires across the country were caused by rubbish. They start easily and a large number of them are deliberate. Dumped furniture, car tyres, scraps of wood, old mattresses and cardboard boxes are potential fire hazards and a target for arsonists (as well as looking bad).
- Always use the refuse bins provided on site wherever possible.
- Always keep rubbish away from buildings and doors.
- Always keep exits and escape routes clear, as rubbish may prevent your escape and stop fire fighters accessing the building.
Smoking is not allowed in communal areas. Should you choose to smoke inside your own property, never throw cigarettes on the floor, out of a window or over a balcony. Make sure you put cigarettes out fully and dispose of them correctly.
We understand that you want the entrance to your home to feel welcoming, but it is really important that items are NOT stored in corridors and stairwells.
- Items left in shared areas or corridors can act as fuel for fire and obstruct escape routes. Please don’t leave anything like bikes or buggies in corridors or communal areas.
- Never wedge communal doors open or shut.
- Please don’t smoke in communal areas and don’t let your family or any visitors to your home smoke in these areas.
- If you notice any repairs needed in communal areas, let us know as quickly as possible so we can fix these. This is even more important if you think the repair could relate to fire safety, such as a broken fire door.
- Do not tamper or interfere with any self-closing devices fitted to fire doors. These are intended to close doors in the event of a fire.
If our staff see items in shared areas that present a serious fire hazard, they may remove them without notice. If you see anything obstructing a shared area, please report it by contacting us on 0303 123 1890.
Fire doors are a really important part of fire safety in your home. They can protect you from the spread of smoke and fire. Never leave fire doors propped open and do not disable the closer. If you see a fire door that is damaged please report it to us so we can repair it.
Fire escape plan
Being prepared for a fire can save lives. With everyone in your household:
- Make sure you know what the fire evacuation strategy is for your building (if you live in a flat this information will be on signs in your building).
- Plan what to do if there was a fire in your home.
- Familiarise yourself with your escape route out of the building (and an alternative route in case your first route is not accessible).
- Keep any escape routes clear of obstacles.
- Make sure you know where the keys to the front door and windows are kept.
- Learn how to navigate the stairs in darkness so you could do the same in thick smoke.
- If you envisage needing help to leave the building in the event of a fire, due to restricted mobility or a disability, or for any other reason, please inform us as soon as possible and we will put a specific plan in place for you and alert the fire service to your needs.
What to do in event of fire
Thankfully there are relatively few fires, but when they do occur it is vital that you know what to do.
If you live in a house, you should get out of the property as soon as you can by the safest means possible and should not return until the fire service says you can.
If you live in a flat, follow the safety instructions on the notices displayed around your building. Your building will have either a “stay put” strategy or an “evacuation” strategy depending on its design and/or any specific arrangement that may temporarily be put in place.
It is important to remember that, regardless of the strategy for your building, if at any time you are affected by smoke or fire, feel it is unsafe to stay in your property (even if the fire is somewhere else in the building), or you are instructed to leave by the Fire and Rescue Service, you should leave the building by the nearest exit, closing any doors behind you.
If you are in a communal area and discover a fire, you should leave the building immediately – do not return to your flat. If your building has an alarm point in the communal area, you should activate this as you leave to alert others in the building to the fire.
Call 999 as soon as it is safe to do so – the sooner you call the fire service, the sooner they will arrive to help.
Do not tackle a fire yourself unless you have received training in how to do this – you could be putting yourself and others in more danger.
Try to stay calm and, if you can, close all doors and windows to prevent smoke and fire spreading.
You should not use a lift in the event of a fire in case you become trapped. You should always use the emergency exit staircases and designated fire escape routes.
Once you have left your property, you should not return until the fire service says you can.
For information from the London Fire Brigade (our Primary Authority Partner) about fire safety at home, visit: www.london-fire.gov.uk/media/1107/fsith_web.pdf.
When warmer weather is on the way and there’s a possibility of small gatherings, barbecues may be a part of plans for spring/summer.
Of course, barbecues should be fun but you should make sure they are safe. Preparing properly will help, so make sure you take precautions.
- Check your barbecue is in good condition (particularly if it’s not been used for some time) and look for parts that may need adjustment or repair
- Consider the location – position it on level ground, so there is less chance of it tipping over. Keep away from fences, sheds and overhanging trees, which have been known to catch fire
- Never light a barbecue in an enclosed space or on a balcony
- Take particular care in hot, dry weather to reduce the risk of grass catching fire
- Never pour petrol or other accelerants onto a barbecue. Some of the most serious barbecue-related accidents happen when people do this and the barbecue ‘explodes’
- Don’t leave children unsupervised near a barbecue
- Make sure the barbecue is completely out before you leave it
- Take care when getting rid of a disposable barbecue, or barbecue coals – ensure they are completely cold, before placing them in a bin.