Smoke Alarms

You should have smoke alarms fitted on every level of your home. They give you vital time to ‘get out, stay out and call 999’ if ever you’re unlucky enough to have a fire.

And it’s crucial that you test them regularly – we advise once a week. Follow us on Twitter, for our #testittuesday reminders.

A smoke alarm with the batteries missing is useless. If you must take the battery out, make sure you replace it there and then.

Every six months you should open the alarm case and gently vacuum inside to remove dust from the sensor. If the smoke alarm doesn’t open, vacuum through the holes.
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Change the battery every year (unless it’s a ten-year alarm) or when you need to. Alarms give out an intermittent bleep to let you know the battery’s running low.

If you don’t have a smoke alarm, please call us free on 0800 389 5525 for help and advice. There are even specially-designed alarms for people who are deaf or who have hearing problems.

Have a look at the Fire Kills website for more information.

Escape Plan

Make sure you have an escape plan involving everyone who lives in your home, and share the plan with any visitors.

Top tips:

  • the best escape route is the normal way in and out of your home
  • make sure everyone knows where your door and window keys are kept
  • think of any difficulties you may have getting out, eg at night you may need a torch
  • keep the route and exits clear of obstructions
  • think about how children, older or disabled people or pets will get out
  • choose a second escape route, in case your first choice is blocked.

If you can’t escape, you’ll need to find a room to take refuge in. This is especially important if you have difficulty moving around on your own. The Know Your Escape Plan video recaps what you need to do.

bedtime checks

When you’re asleep, it takes longer to sense a fire and escape safely. That’s why it’s really important to check your home for fire hazards before you go to bed:

  • close inside doors at night to stop a fire spreading
  • check the cooker’s off, and don’t leave the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher on
  • turn off and unplug electrical appliances (unless they’re meant to be left on, like a freezer)
  • don’t leave mobile phones, electric cigarettes or gadgets charging overnight
  • keep a phone close to your bed, in case you need to call 999, but make sure there are no trailing wires
  • put candles and cigarettes out properly
  • turn heaters off and put up fireguards
  • make sure exits are kept clear
  • tell everyone in your home the escape plan and where the keys are kept

carbon monoxide

You can’t see it, taste or smell it – but it can kill you, quickly, with no warning.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly-poisonous gas. It’s created when fossil fuels such as natural gas and solid fuels like charcoal and wood fail to combust fully, because of a lack of oxygen.

It can come out of gas appliances and chimney flues, and even barbecues – which is why you should never take a smouldering or lit BBQ indoors, or into anywhere like a tent or caravan. Even if you’ve finished cooking, your BBQ will give off fumes for hours after use.

You can buy detectors and alarms which measure the CO at home and warn you if it’s too high. You can also get portable, battery-powered ones to use if you go camping, caravanning and travelling.

Always buy from a reputable store, or your energy provider. The detector should be marked EN50291 and have the British Standards Kitemark or another European approval organisation’s mark on it.

Have a look at our Carbon Monoxide leaflet for more, as well as the Carbon Monoxide Safety, Gas Safe Register and Gas Safe Charity websites for more.

Fire safety in rented and high-rise accommodation

We’re part of a group called Homestamp, which aims to improve the quality and safety of rented accommodation, and provide information for landlords and people looking to rent somewhere to live.

Following a risk assessment, the landlord should:


formulate an escape plan for all flats in the premises (in some cases this may well be a ‘stay put’ policy)
communicate the escape plan to all occupants.

Your landlord has a legal duty to give you a copy of the escape plan for your building, so ask for a copy if you don’t already have one.

If there’s a fire in your flat:


follow your escape plan: get everyone out, stay out, call 999
close all doors behind you as you leave, to contain the fire
if safe to do so, activate the fire alarm if there is one
if safe to do so, alert neighbours on your floor
walk down the nearest stairs or through the nearest fire exit. DO NOT use the lift.

If there is a fire, but not in your flat


if there’s no smoke in the hallways or stairwells, and it is safe to do so, follow your escape plan
call the fire service on 999 – NEVER assume that someone else has already done so – you could save someone’s life.

If trapped in your flat by fire

If it’s too dangerous to follow your escape plan, get everyone to the safest room within the flat. Furthest from the smoke/heat entry point is best, and doors and walls will provide additional protection.
If it’s too dangerous to follow your escape plan, get everyone to the safest room within the flat. Furthest from the smoke/heat entry point is best, and doors and walls will provide additional protection.

Have a look at our leaflets on fire safety for shared or rent accommodation as well as students in rented accommodation.

Fire Safety Advice for Partners & Professionals 

Our Prevention team have produced this guidance document aimed at those working with and or supporting those members of our Community with care and support needs. Evidence shows that adults with care and support needs may be at a greater risk of having a fire and to be severely injured or die as a result of fire. We have identified a need for the risk and vulnerability to fire to be integral to the initial and ongoing care plans, to include a responsibility to monitor and review any change in risk and take steps to reduce that risk. 

Please access the guidance document here