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Keeping your child safe from fire at home

Find out how you can be prepared in the event that there is a fire in your home and how you can protect your baby or child

Be prepared if there's a fire in your home

Fire in your home can cause devastation and loss of life.

In the event of a fire:

  1. Get out.
  2. Call 999 or 112 and ask for the fire service to come out
  3. Stay out.

Call 999 or 112 immediately in an emergency

If you or your child catch fire

If you or your child catch fire, do the 'stop, drop and roll' drill.

You should:

  • stop what you're doing
  • get on the ground and roll.

Allow the ground and not a person's hands to suffocate the fire.

A fire blanket can also be used by placing it over you and then do the 'stop, drop and roll'.

Preparing for a fire emergency

You can prevent fire from harming you and your family.

Take the following steps:

  1. Install working smoke alarms and heat detectors - test them at least once a week.
  2. Make a fire escape plan and practice it often.
  3. Check for fire hazards in your home and either remove them or be aware of them.
  4. Carry out a ‘last thing at night routine’ every night, such as close all interior doors and unplug electrical items.

Fire escape plan

A fire escape plan is a plan for what you need to do if there is a fire in your home.

Make the plan with everyone in your home. Practice it regularly.

Put the plan into action when your fire or smoke alarm goes off.

Your fire escape plan should include:

  1. Keep corridors, halls, doors and windows clear at all times.
  2. Raise the alarm. Wake everyone up and get everyone out the quickest way.
  3. Check doors with the back of your hand – don’t open them if they are warm. This means the fire is on the other side.
  4. Only open the doors that you need to get out of the house.
  5. If there is smoke, crawl along near to the floor where the air will be cleaner.
  6. Do not look for the cause of the fire.
  7. Meet at an assembly point outside your home and make sure everyone is out.
  8. Call the fire brigade on 112 or 999 from a mobile phone or neighbour's home.
  9. Do not go back into your home until the fire brigade tells you it is safe.

Fire extinguishers and fire blankets

Fire extinguishers and fire blankets can be useful if fire breaks out in your home.

If you have them, make sure:

  • you know how to use them
  • they are easy to get at

Only try to put out a fire yourself if it is safe to do so.

Related topic

Preventing burns

Last thing at night routine

Before you go to bed at night you should carry out a 'last thing at night' routine.

You should:

  • Check that your exits and hallways are clear before you go to bed.
  • If you need a key for your front and back door, make sure that the keys are kept close to the doors in an accessible place, known to everyone in the home.
  • Make sure fires are out or nearly out at night. Put fire guards in front of open fires.
  • Do not leave your television, radio or music system on standby.
  • Only appliances designed for 24 hour use should be left plugged in at night-time. For example, fridges and freezers.
  • Plug out the mobile phone charger when you go out or when you go to bed.
  • Switch off and plug out your electric blanket before you go to sleep.
  • Empty ashtrays properly and put out candles.
  • Make sure gas appliances are turned off.

Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms will go off if there is a fire in your home. An alarm will sound when it detects smoke.

You need a number of smoke alarms in your home. You won't be able to smell smoke when you're asleep. Our sense of smell doesn't work when we are asleep. Inhaling smoke can also put you in a deeper sleep.

Keep your smoke alarms in good working order with enough battery power. Test your smoke alarms regularly.

Where to install smoke alarms

Get at least one smoke alarm for each floor in your home. For example, the ground floor and first floor if you live in a two-storey house. Put one in your hallway and one at each upper level in the landing area.

Fit them between the sleeping areas and the kitchen and living rooms.

A smoke alarm on each floor in your home is a minimum. Aim to have one in every room so that fire will be discovered as early as possible.

Install a smoke alarm in the:

  • living room
  • kitchen
  • bedrooms used by children or vulnerable people
  • bedrooms used by smokers
  • bedrooms with a television or other electrical appliances like a computer
  • garage

Heat detectors

Heat detectors are also known as heat alarms. They can be used in places where a smoke alarm might go off unnecessarily.

These areas include:

  • kitchen areas where there are fumes from cooking
  • areas where there could be smoke from cigarettes
  • rooms where there is an open fire

Position heat detectors at ceiling level. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Alarms you can install if you have a hearing difficulty

If you are deaf or have impaired hearing you may not hear the sound of a smoke alarm. The alarm could also go off at night when the person is not wearing a hearing aid.

You can get smoke alarms that use strobe lights or vibrating pads. These alert people with hearing difficulties to danger from fire.

Testing your smoke alarm

It is recommended that you test smoke alarms once a week. This is to check that they are working correctly. You can test them by pressing the test button. If you can't reach the test button, use the handle tip of a sweeping brush to press it.

Smoke alarm test button
Smoke alarm test button

Replacing batteries

You should replace the batteries with new ones:

  • when the old ones aren't working
  • as soon as you hear the warning beep
  • once a year in standard alarms

Replace batteries immediately if they are not working. Do not put it off.

Keeping the alarm clean

Vacuum the smoke alarms regularly and wipe the cover. If they get clogged with dust they may not work properly.

Replacing your alarm

There is an expiry date on smoke alarms. Replace the whole alarm when it reaches this expiry date. If you have a 10-year smoke alarm, you need to replace it after 10 years.

Carbon monoxide alarms

You also need to have carbon monoxide alarms in your home.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen with gas, oil, coal or other fuels. You can't see or smell carbon monoxide.

If a person is exposed to carbon monoxide, it can cause illness and death.

Fire dangers in your home

Children are fascinated by fire. Teach them about fire risks. Children do not understand danger, supervise them at all times. Do not expect them to be able to look after themselves around fires.

Supervise children around fire hazards such as:

  • candles
  • stoves
  • open fires
  • heaters
  • barbecues
  • chip pans
  • electrical equipment

Heating, cooking equipment and electrical items can go on fire. Your child could also suffer from burns.

Related topic

Preventing burns

Stoves, open fires and heaters

Always guard open fires with a spark-guard and a fireguard secured to the wall.

Cover stoves and heaters with a fireguard secured to the wall. Never put anything on top of a fireguard.

Keep portable heaters away from curtains and blinds as they could catch fire.

Make sure fireguards and spark-guards are secured to the wall
Make sure fireguards and spark-guards are secured to the wall.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Blocked chimneys and flues, faulty or damaged heaters can cause carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Carbon monoxide gas can be released by any fuel that burns. This includes:

  • coal
  • turf
  • oil
  • gas
  • wood

It is colourless, odourless and can kill you. It is often called the silent killer.

You can reduce the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning by:

  • getting fuel-burning appliances serviced and chimneys cleaned every year
  • install at least one carbon monoxide alarm
  • don't run a car, lawnmower, generator or other engine-powered equipment in any confined spaces
  • make sure your family are aware of the dangers of CO poisoning

Chip pans

Chip pans are a fire risk. Consider a different method of cooking, for example, an electrical deep fat fryer or the oven.

A chip pan
A chip pan


Always clean your grill after use as fat and grease at the bottom of the grill can catch fire easily.


Keep children well away from barbecues. Burn injuries can occur in seconds.

Candles and flames

Keep lit candles or anything with a flame out of children's reach. For example, an oil or fragrance burner or incense sticks.

Never leave burning candles unattended. Always supervise children in a room where candles are lit.

Keep candles away from curtains, blinds, fabrics and other items as they may catch fire.

Matches and cigarette lighters

Keep matches and cigarette lighters out of sight and reach of children.

Electrical equipment

Children can burn themselves on some electrical appliances and equipment. This includes hairdryers, straighteners and irons.

Switch off and plug out electrical equipment:

  • when not in use
  • when you're going out
  • before you go to bed

This includes dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, laptops and computers.

Do not leave mobile phones charging when you go to bed or are not in the same room.

Do not leave charger leads plugged in to sockets when they are not in use.

Use short flexes or cords on electrical equipment where possible. This includes:

  • kettles
  • coffee makers
  • slow cookers
  • toasters

Short flexes and cords reduce the chances of your child being able to reach an electrical item and pull it down onto themselves. A long flex is also a strangulation risk.

Do not use damaged electrical appliances.

Related topic

Preventing burns from electrical items

Electric blankets

Do not use electric blankets for young children. They could mess around with the blanket, flex or plug. This may result in injury to themselves or a fire.

Do not use damaged electric blankets. Check electric blankets and their flexes regularly for signs of wear and tear.

Make sure there are no creases in the electric blanket and it lies flat on the mattress.

Plug out electric blankets when you go to bed.

Plug sockets

Do not put too many plugs into a socket. Electrical sockets can become overloaded and a fire can start. This happens when too many plugs are using the same socket, for example on an extension lead.

Switch off and plug out electrical items when going to bed and going out.

Children's clothes

Try to buy children's clothing made of low-risk fire material.

Look out for 'Low flammability to I.S. 148' on labels. Clothes that don't meet this standard should have 'Keep away from fire' on the label. This will be written in capital letters and in red font.

Related Content

Page last reviewed: 26/03/2019
Next review due: 26/03/2022