Fire precautions for residents in flats, bedsits and shared houses

If you live in a House of Multiple Occupancy(HMO), below is a list of precautions you need to consider to keep yourself safe:

  1. Make sure everyone knows the escape route from the property and how to call the fire service. Where possible, all residents should participate in fire drills, know the location of all fire fighting equipment in the house, and how to use it.
  2. The escape route usually includes the internal stairway down to the street. All residents must ensure the entrance door to their flat or rooms or other doors opening onto the stairway, are maintained self-closing, and the stairway is not obstructed in any way.
  3. Never leave children alone in the property, especially in rooms where heating or cooking appliances are in use. Keep matches and lighters out of their reach.
  4. Never fill a chip pan more than half full with oil or fat, and never leave it unattended with the heat turned on. If you have a chip pan fire, don’t move it and don’t throw water on it. Turn off the heat and, if safe to do so, smother the flames with a damp cloth, fire blanket or the chip pan lid. Leave it to cool for at least half an hour.
  5. Keep an eye on elderly residents. Make sure they take sensible fire precautions, especially with cigarettes and pipes. Remind them to follow the manufacturers’ instructions when using electric blankets.
  6. Don’t smoke in bed. This is a major cause of fires in the home. Make sure you have put out your last cigarette or pipe before you go to bed.
  7. Keep all portable heaters away from furniture and furnishings. Make sure nothing can fall on top of them, and that they cannot be knocked over.
  8. Do not keep highly combustible materials, such as petrol or paraffin, in your flat or room. Store them in a place approved by the local authority or fire service.
  9. Your landlord must have gas appliances, such as fires and other heaters, serviced at least once a year by a qualified person. Gas appliances need air to burn safely, therefore never block any air vents, and check nothing is obstructing outside grilles, flues or air bricks. The danger signals indicating a gas appliance is not working correctly are: stains, soot or discolouring around the gas fire, or at the top of a gas water heater; a yellow or orange flame on a gas fire or water heater, a strange smell when the gas appliance is on
  10. Routine precautions at bedtime should include: switching off all electrical appliances (except those designed to be on all the time) and removing the plugs carefully, checking for burning cigarettes or pipes, putting a guard on any open fire, and closing the doors of unoccupied rooms.

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