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Confused.com tips on what to do
in the event of a fire

According to the Association of British Insurers, every day in the UK 200 homes suffer a fire, and one person dies and 40 are injured as a result of fires in the home. Regrettably, many of us will be involved with a house fire in some way in our lives, and it's not likely to be much fun. But there are preventative steps that we can take to avoid this undesirable situation, and also steps we can take to limit the damage if we're unfortunate enough to have a house fire.

BEFORE: Precautions you can take

Document your possessions
For the purposes of potentially claiming on your home insurance, it's by no means a terrible idea to keep receipts, or take digital photos of individual items around the house that you may have to claim for. Don't forget that many mobile phones can double-up for this purpose. Obviously, this precaution isn't fire-specific - you may well thank yourself for having done so if you get burgled, for example.

Forewarned is forearmed
Fitting smoke detectors to each floor of your house is a good way to raise the alarm in the early stages of a fire. If you do this, be sure to regularly check that they work and the batteries are functioning - there is little point in a purely decorative smoke alarm.

Take care in the kitchen
Fires in the home most commonly begin in the kitchen, usually from the heat given off in cooking. To this end, one should never leave things cooking on a flame unattended. It is now becoming more commonplace for households to have a fire extinguisher and fire blanket located in the kitchen, and it's understandable why.

No smoke without fire
If you do smoke in the house, it will accordingly increase the risk of being involved in a house fire at some point. So be sure that anything you smoke is properly stubbed out when finished. Plus it's best to avoid smoking when very tired, as it is commonplace for fires to begin when people fall asleep whilst still smoking. Certainly avoid smoking in bed.

Do a bedtime check
Fire presents a greater risk when you're asleep - so check every room in the house for appliances left on, candles left lit and suchlike before going to bed.

DURING: Get out!

Have a plan, and stick to it
When the fire alarm sounds, workplaces insist that you get straight out without stopping to salvage anything, get you to a safe organised place and take a roll call - and with good reason. If the smoke alarm sounds in your house, then you should gather everyone in the house together, exit via the quickest escape route, and call 999. The biggest mistake you can make in the event of a fire is to go and find out what's triggered the alarm. It is possible for people in these situations to open the door to a burning room, which may then cause the fire to spread quicker, or trap them from the rest of their family.

Don't go back!
Too often, people return to the house to try and save pets or possessions. Unless pets cannot escape due to being in a cage or suchlike, then they almost always do without human assistance. And possessions can be covered by your home insurance. None of these things are worth endangering your life for by returning to a blaze.

AFTER: Damage limitation

Safety first
If you suffer from respiratory problems or feel unwell after a fire, go straight to see your GP or the nearest hospital A&E.

Returning to the scene
It is advisable not to re-enter your home after a house fire until you are told by trained professionals that it is safe to do so. Remember even when it has been declared safe, there may still be broken glass and sharp objects exposed.

Who to call
After a fire, it is best not to assume that anybody else is going to contact your home insurance provider. It's best to do so as soon as you can in order to get the ball rolling in terms of recovery, and ideally do so before you incur any expense. You should also call close family or friends to inform them of what's happened, but also reassure them that you're ok.

The clean-up
Do not try to clean up any items until a qualified restoration service has a chance to evaluate the fire damage. If the incorrect equipment is used, then you may end up causing further damage. Your home insurance company are likely to come in handy here, as they will probably be able to put you in touch with specialist cleaners.

For more information concerning fire safety in the home, visit the Directgov website at http://campaigns.direct.gov.uk/firekills/




Additional resource:

SaferHouses.co.uk - keeping safe in and around your home


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