Keeping your home fire safe
A good quality British standard smoke alarm could save your life. In fact, you’re twice as likely to die in a fire at home if you haven’t got one. It’s the easiest way to alert you to a fire in the home, giving you precious time to escape.
They’re cheap and easy to fit – and there’s no excuse for not having one.
The Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service offer a FREE ‘home fire risk assessment’ service to every home in the area - making sure that you have access to a quality smoke alarm and up-to-date fire safety advice.
During the assessment, fire service staff will tell you how to spot potential risks and how to prevent them, and will help you work out an escape plan in case a fire does break out. If you already have a smoke alarm, they’ll test it – and if you don’t, they’ll fit a free one.
If you decide to buy your own smoke alarm:
- Get one that complies with the British Standard;
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fit it;
- Fit the alarm in between the living areas and the bedrooms;
- Make sure you can hear it throughout your home, especially from the bedrooms;
- Test your smoke alarm each week by using the test button;
- Change the battery every year;
- Use your vacuum to keep it free of dust.
Fire risk assessments
A Fire risk assessment is a systematic assessment of your home, to identify any potential fire risks.
In some situations, you may be able to complete your own fire risk assessment, however, it is usually necessary to get professional help with this. You can find out more about fire risk assessments on the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Services' website.
- Smoke alarms
Chip pan fires
Chip pan fires cause more fire-related injuries in the home than anything else. They often start when the fat overheats or spills onto the cooker.
- Never fill the pan more than one third full with fat or oil;
- Never leave the pan alone with the heat on - not even for a second;
- Dry chips before putting them in the pan;
- Never put the chips in the pan if the oil starts smoking – turn the heat off to let it cool down;
If your chip pan catches fire - don’t panic.
- Don’t move the pan;
- Turn off the heat if you can, but don’t reach over the pan to get to the controls;
- NEVER throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire;
- If you can, drape a damp cloth or towel, or something like a heavy bread board or tray over the pan to smother the flames.
- Leave the pan to cool down for at least half an hour
If you can’t control the fire yourself, close the kitchen door, and get everyone out of the house. Dial 999 and don’t go back inside until the Fire Service tells you it’s safe to do so.
Over half of all accidental fires in the home start in the kitchen – and nearly all of these involve the cooker.
- Never hang tea towels on the cooker;
- Never leave the cooker alone when it is switched on;
- Make sure the cooker is turned off when you have finished using it;
- Keep electrical leads from other appliances, like kettles or toasters, away from the cooker;
- Don’t let fat and grease build up on the cooker, especially in the grill pan;
- Never leave children in the kitchen unsupervised.
Cigarettes, lighters and matches are the biggest killers in accidental fires in the home. Every three days, someone in the UK dies because of a cigarette fire.
- Never smoke in bed;
- Always use a sturdy ashtray;
- Never leave a lit cigarette unattended;
- Take extra care when you’re tired or when you’ve been drinking;
- Keep matches and lighters away from children.
Candles are popular, but they have exposed flames which can cause a fire if you are not careful.
- Place candles on a flat, stable and heat resistant surface;
- Use a proper candleholder, and make sure the candle fits firmly inside it;
- Leave plenty of space above and around the flame;
- Keep candles away from draughts, curtains, furniture and materials;
- Never put candles on polished surfaces like televisions;
- Never leave candles unattended or go to sleep when they are lit;
- Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets;
- Use a metal spoon to put the candle out. Let the candle cool down before you move it.
Electrics and wiring
Following these simple rules will help to prevent electrical equipment starting fires in your home:
- At night, turn off and unplug all electrical appliances except those that are meant to be permanently switched on (such as fridges);
- Make sure your electrical appliances have the right fuse. Use 3amp fuses for equipment up to 720 watts, and 13amp fuses for equipment over 720 watts;
- Avoid multi-way adaptors. One plug, one socket is best;
- Don’t run extension leads or cables under carpets;
You should also look out for warning signs of dangerous wiring, like:
- Hot plugs and sockets;
- Fuses that blow for no obvious reason;
- Lights that flicker;
- Brown scorch marks on sockets and plugs.
If you see any of these warning signs, get in touch with us as soon as possible.
- Chip pan fires
More information and advice
What to do if a fire starts
If a fire starts in your home, you might only have a short time to get out. Don’t panic. Tell everybody else, then get out, stay out and dial 999.
- If fire is blocking your escape, this important advice will help to keep you and your family safe:
- If you can, close the door of the room where the fire is, and close all the doors behind you as you leave. This will help to slow down the spread of fire and smoke;
- Don’t waste time trying to pick up valuables or possessions;
- Never open a door unless you have to escape through it. If you have to open a door, use the back of your hand to touch it first. If it’s warm, don’t open it;
- If you can’t get out, go into a room and close the door. Use towels, sheets or clothes to block any gaps under the door to help stop smoke spreading into the room;
- Go to the window and shout for attention; ask people to dial 999;
- If the room gets smokey, stay close to the floor. It’s easier to breathe there because smoke rises;
- If you are on the first floor and in danger, drop bedding to the ground to cushion your drop from the window. Get out of the window feet first, and lower yourself down as far as you can, before you let go.
- What to do if a fire starts
Free gas servicing
Free gas servicing checks
As a Southway tenant, you get a FREE service and safety check of your gas equipment and smoke alarms. And it’s not just a one-off -we come round every year to do this vital work.
This gas servicing isn’t optional: we have to do these checks by law. The law states that, as your landlord, we must check every home we manage every year, and your tenancy agreement confirms you must let us in to do this. If you do not let us do this, we will take legal action to enter the property, and you risk a fine of over £700 – the cost of us going to court and gaining entry to your home.
What you need to do
We use in-house Gas Safe Registered engineers to give your home expert treatment. This will help to keep your heating bills down, and give you peace of mind too.
Our engineers will service all your gas appliances, as well as your smoke alarms, to check that they are operating safely. You must make sure that there is gas and electricity available at your home at the time of the appointment.
All of our workers carry photo identification cards. Please always ask for ID before you let anyone into your home.
When you will get your check
We will write to you each year with details of an appointment, so that this essential service can be carried out. If you cannot make this appointment, call us as soon as you can so we can complete the check at a time convenient for you.
- Free gas servicing checks
What if I buy my own gas appliances?
If you buy your own gas appliances, they must be fitted by a Gas Safe Registered contractor. You should have proof of this in the form of a CP12 certificate, provided by the contractor.
We will service gas appliances you own, apart from your gas cooker. Although we will check the cooker at the time to ensure that it is safe for you to use, you must make your own arrangements for it to be serviced.
You can find a Gas Safe Registered engineer on the Gas Safe Register.
Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning
Every year, around 30 people die from breathing carbon monoxide fumes from faulty gas appliances, and many more end up in hospital. We do not want this to happen to you.
Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, as it has no taste or smell. The best way to ensure that you and your family are not at risk from it is to let us check and service the gas appliances in your home regularly.
For more advice on avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning, click here.
Hot tips for cold snaps
Be prepared in the kitchen
Find out where your stop-tap is and check that it is working properly. If there are problems with it, let us know as soon as possible.
Get to grips with heating controls
Having a good understanding of how to control your heating can help you stay warm and safe all year-round. If you’re unsure on how to control your heating, contact us.
If you have central heating, use the thermostat to keep the temperature comfortable. During the day a good setting is between 18°C and 22°C. If it’s very cold outside, set the heating to stay on continuously, but turn the thermostat down lower for the night. Remember, the higher the thermo-stat setting, the more fuel you use.
When you're away
If you’ve got central heating and you’re away when it’s cold outside, leave the heating on continuously with the thermostat right down to 6°C. This will stop your pipes freezing, but it won’t cost much.
If you don’t have central heating and you’re going away, turn the water off at the stop tap by turning the tap clockwise. Then drain off all the cold water. This empties the pipes and cold-water tank. Then turn the immersion heater to OFF.
If you have a solid fuel boiler, let the fire die out, then drain off all the hot water.
What should I do if a pipe bursts?
If a pipe bursts in your home, try not to panic. Follow the steps below to get your home safe and dry again as soon as possible:
- Turn the water supply off at the stopcock tap. It’s probably near the kitchen sink. Turn off any gate valves from the water tank.
- Turn the cold taps ON. Make sure the sink and bath plugs are out. And save some drinking water in a jug for later.
- Turn the immersion heater and central heating OFF if you have them. If you have a solid fuel boiler, let the fire die out.
- Turn the hot taps ON to drain out the water.
- If there’s water near the lights or sockets, turn the electricity off at the meter.
- Catch leaks in basins and soak up water with towels to prevent water damaging your home.
- Phone us on 0161 448 4200 (8am-5.30pm, Monday to Friday) you can use this number outside normal office hours if the problem is an emergency that threatens your health, safety, or security.
- Try to keep warm and dry. Put on extra layers of clothes until things warm up again.