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Fire safety

Somerset West and Taunton Council want you, your family and friends to feel safe in your property. To help achieve this, there are a number of actions you can take:

You are 4 times more likely to die in a domestic fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm.

  • you should have working 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
  • it is crucial that you test them regularly – we advise once a week
  • a smoke alarm with the batteries missing is useless. Do not remove them as you don’t know when the alarm will be needed and it could save your life.
  • 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

For more information visit Devon and Somerset Fire Service - Smoke alarms.

Kitchen fires account for nearly two thirds of accidental fires at home, but many can be easily avoided.

Always remember to ‘Watch that pan! - watch the heat’:

  • make sure you don’t get distracted when you’re cooking
  • take pans off the heat, or turn the heat down, if you need to leave the kitchen
  • make sure handles don’t stick out, so pans don’t get knocked off the hob
  • take care if you’re wearing loose clothing, which can easily catch fire, and keep tea towels and cloths a safe distance away from the cooker
  • never leave children alone in the kitchen
  • double check the cooker is off when you’ve finished
  • don’t cook if you’ve been drinking alcohol or taken medication that makes you drowsy
  • take time to teach older children safety in the kitchen
  • never put a tea towel to dry on your cooker as the heat can be enough to catch them alight.

For more information visit Devon and Somerset Fire Service cooking at home.

From overloaded extension leads and cheap chargers, through to white goods not fit for the job, issues with electrical items are a common cause of fire. So how can you reduce fire risks and keep yourself and your family safe?

Here are 12 must-knows for electrical device safety:

  • always make sure electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark when you buy them
  • keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order
  • don't buy cheap counterfeit chargers for items that use lithium batteries, and never leave phones or laptops plugged in to charge overnight
  • empty fluff from tumble dryers after every load, its amazing how much comes off your clothing
  • hair straighteners can get extremely hot – always switch them off and leave them to cool on a heatproof surface
  • try to keep to one plug per socket, don’t run high powered appliances like washing machines from an extension cable
  • be lead safety savvy – use a fused in line extension. Cable drum extension leads should always be completely unwound to avoid overheating, and be careful not to overload extension leads
  • register your white goods – it could save your life if a product is recalled for safety reasons
  • Never add an extension cable to a second extension cable, either use a longer one or preferable always plug directly into a socket.
  • Always check little used appliance before you reuse them, e.g. Christmas lights or electric blankets
  • share your fire safety knowledge with the whole family – check the kids' chargers, and make sure everyone knows how to use them safely

For more information visit Devon and Somerset Fire Service electrical safety.

Having a smoke alarm is the first crucial step to protecting yourself and your family from fire,  but what would you do if it went off during the night? A well-practised escape plan could be a life-saver if you have a fire.

Make sure you have an escape plan involving everyone who lives in your home, also any neighbours if your means of escape crosses their garden. Don’t forget any to share the plan with any visitors who are staying at your property.

Here are some top tips to keep you safe:

  • 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, e.g. 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
  • NEVER be tempted to tackle a fire yourself, however small it appears. ALWAYS get out, stay out, call 999
  • Never use a lift in the event of a fire
  • If you live in a rented flat and you can’t self-evacuate, let you landlord know

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.

For more information visit Devon and Somerset Fire Service plan your escape.

When you’re asleep, it takes longer to sense a fire and escape safely. 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 mobility scooters, e scooters, electric bikes, 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
  • always put candles on not burnable surfaces including tealights and make sure that are cold before going to bed also make sure that cigarettes are out properly
  • turn heaters off NOT STORAGE HEATERS and put up fireguards if there is an open fire
  • never dry washing on a storage heater or around an open fire
  • make sure your internal escape routes are clear exits are kept clear
  • tell everyone in your home the escape plan and where the keys are kept.
  • keep a torch ready in case of a power cut.

For more information visit Devon and Somerset Fire Service fire safety at night.

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.

If you have a gas boiler or solid fuel appliance a CO alarm should be fitted in your home which will warn you if it’s too high. You can also get portable, battery-powered ones to use if you go camping, caravanning and travelling.

CO detector should be marked EN50291 and have the British Standards Kite mark or another European approval organisation’s mark on it.

For more information visit Devon and Somerset Fire Service carbon monoxide advice.

Used carefully, open fires can make your home warm and welcoming. Most chimney fires are preventable, and there are lots of things you can do to stay safe.

Chimneys that aren’t swept regularly will have soot deposits which may fall back down the chimney, setting fire to carpets and furniture. Clean chimneys are the safest ones. They should be swept regularly to avoid the build-up of soot, as well as debris and obstructions such as birds’ nests, according to the fuel:

  • smokeless/oil/gas – at least once a year
  • bituminous coal – at least twice a year
  • wood – quarterly when in use

Don’t overload the fire with fuel and avoid burning inappropriate waste, like food, green timber, plastic and MDF. Flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin should never be used to light the fire.

Spark guards or fireguards can prevent sparks or embers igniting carpets or furniture. Always use a fireguard in front of the fire if there are children in the property and never dry anything on your fireguard.

For more information visit Devon and Somerset Fire Service carbon monoxide advice.

Each year there are about 2,700 smoking-related fires in England, resulting in around 82 deaths. Poorly made or counterfeit chargers for e-cigarettes have caused house fires but this is a much smaller number than cigarettes and there are things you can do to manage these risks.

Fires caused by smoking materials (including cigarettes, roll-ups, cigars and pipe tobacco) result in more deaths than any other type of fire. But smokers can take some simple steps to stay safe.

  • make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished: Put it out, right out!
  • take extra care when you’re tired, taking any sort of drugs or have been drinking alcohol. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning. Never smoke in bed. If you need to lie down, don’t light up
  • never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended – they can easily overbalance as they burn down
  • use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn
  • tap your ash into an ashtray, never a wastebasket containing other rubbish – and don’t let the ash or cigarette ends build up in the ashtray
  • do not empty the hot contents of an ashtray into a bin. A drop of water in the ashtray will help to make it safe, then leave it to cool down fully
  • keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach. Ideally, buy child-resistant lighters and matchboxes
  • only buy e-cigarettes from reputable outlets, and use the correct charger for the device, follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • don’t leave an e-cigarette charging unattended or overnight. As with other rechargeable electrical equipment including mobile phones and laptops, e-cigarettes should never be charged or used if they’ve been damaged as damaged battery cells present a chemical and fire risk.

For more information visit Devon and Somerset Fire Service smoking in the home.

A Devon and Somerset Fire Service Home Safety Visit is a free service offered to residents of Somerset. If you would like them to visit you in your home, at a convenient time, to see what we can do together to make you safer.

Who is eligible for a free home fire safety visit

  • any household with children under the age of 18
  • anyone aged over 65
  • anyone with a disability, mobility issues or sensory loss
  • anyone who smokes and lives alone
  • anyone with a thatched property
  • many other vulnerable people - please get in touch

What happens during a home fire safety visit

Devon & Somerset Fire Service can arrange for a friendly Home Safety Technicians to visit you in your home. The visit usually takes around 45 minutes and covers:

  • checking smoke alarms are set up correctly
  • making a fire escape plan
  • using electricity safety
  • cooking safely
  • keeping children safe
  • identifying and discussing any further support where needed, including fitting specialist fire safety equipment where required.

Request a free home safety visit.

  • Make sure you have easy access at all times to any mobility aids you may need, such as a walking stick.
  • Consider alternative means of escape should the electricity supply fail due to a fire.
  • Always keep a mobile phone next to your bed in case you need to make an emergency call.
  • Think about all possible escape routes in case there is a fire.
  • It is a good idea to practise an escape so that you feel confident you could do it day or night.
  • If you have a key safe outside your property or an access code to the property, it is a good idea to tell the emergency services when calling in an emergency.
  • Store your mobility scooter or wheelchair in a safe place away from the fire escape route. This is because the scooter could get in the way, but also if it were to be involved in a fire, this could affect the escape route.
  • Charging mobility scooter batteries safely by only charging during the daytime. This is because if something goes wrong with the battery and there is a fire, there would be people awake to raise the alarm.

For more information visit Devon and Somerset Fire Service smoking in the home.

Fire safety enquiry

If you are a Somerset West and Taunton Council tenant or leaseholder and have a question about fire safety or there is something which concerns or worries you about fire safety in your property or block please contact us by using the general enquiries online form. Please start your enquiry with 'Fire safety'.