North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service is urging people to take simple steps to protect themselves from accidental fires and carbon monoxide poisoning as they look to keep warm and cut energy use this winter.
The call comes following concerns from the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) that the cost-of-living rise will mean people turn to alternative ways of heating and lighting their homes.
North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service is supporting NFCC’s Stay Fire Safe campaign to provide advice to help reduce the fire risks in the home. As part of the campaign, NYFRS is encouraging people to complete an online home fire safety check for themselves or their loved ones.
By answering a few simple questions, it will provide fire safety advice specific to you and tips on how to keep you and your household safe from fire:
For those most at risk we will come out and visit you to give you personalized advice and support.
It’s crucial people ensure they have working smoke alarms at least one on each level of the home. Where you have a heating appliance that doesn’t run off electricity, we recommend installing a carbon monoxide alarm. It’s the only way to detect this harmful, colourless, odourless gas – which can be fatal. Check alarms are working by pushing the test button at least once a month.
It’s important that where people are able to only heat one room and are using that for both living and sleeping, they can clearly hear alarms so they can be alerted to a fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide when asleep.
Changes to regulations now mean landlords must fit smoke alarms in all homes and carbon monoxide alarms where there is fixed combustion heating appliance in rented accommodation. We advise tenants to ensure their landlord is complying to help keep them safe.
The campaign will also share advice on heating and appliance safety, candles, and electrical safety.
NYFRS Watch Manager Adam Farrow said: “It’s really important that as we all cope safely with the rise in the cost of living, we don’t put ourselves or our loved ones at risk. We can provide advice on reducing the risk of a devastating accidental fire and will be working to support our communities and help keep them safe.”
Five key heating safety tips
- Check any heating appliances are in good working order and not subject to a product recall by checking the Office for Product Safety and Standards website for any alerts or recalls
- Ensure flammable items such as furniture and drying clothes are placed well away from heaters and fires
- Ensure you use the correct fuel for woodburning stoves and open fires – to reduce the risk of toxic fumes, chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning
- Check your escape routes, make sure they are clear from clutter and items such as portable heaters are not blocking them.
- If possible don’t skip servicing of boilers and gas appliances by a Gas Safe engineer to prevent gas leaks and CO poisoning. Landlords must arrange for an annual gas safety check in rented accommodation. If you’re a homeowner check your energy provider’s website for information about their Priority Services Register –if you’re eligible they often offer a free annual gas safety check along with other support.
You may think you’ve found a way to save money safely, but we’ve seen just what can happen if you’re not extra careful. Here are some of our real-life stories about when it all went wrong:
- Using a camping stove inside
- Using candles instead of lights
- Wheat bags to keep warm
- Electric heater
- Electrical appliances not in use
If you know of any commercial premises, restaurant, hotel, or other business that is putting peoples’ lives at risk by tampering with or bypassing meters, please report this.
The Stay Energy Safe line is a completely anonymous service powered by the national charity Crimestoppers to allow you to help prevent harm from unscrupulous energy thieves: https://www.stayenergysafe.co.uk/
Running appliances at night
We asked the National Fire Chiefs Council for its take on the debate over running appliances like washing machines at night:
The NFCC welcomes help for people to cut their energy bills but it’s crucial that people, where possible, avoid running appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers when the household is asleep. If a fire should start the risk to life is greater as people have less time to react and escape.
We understand the peak demand times are between 9-11am and 4-7pm. We encourage consumers to ensure they take advantage of any off-peak savings by using appliances while the household is awake to stay fire safe.
We also ask all householders to ensure they have working smoke alarms on each level of the home and ideally in rooms where a fire may start. Also make sure everyone in the home knows what to do in the event of a fire.