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20% of fire deaths are connected to poor housekeeping. You are at greater risk from fire and falls if your possessions make corridors narrow and block doorways.

Download our guide to Keeping Your Home Safe (PDF) or share it with someone you know who may be at risk.

Top tips for improving safety

Smoke alarms and escape routes

  • Test your smoke alarm weekly to ensure it’s working. Make an annual date to change its batteries unless it has 10 year batteries.
  • Your escape route and doorways need to be clear of belongings and always accessible. In the event of a fire this will allow you and your family to escape or for firefighters to reach you.
  • Make an escape plan for everyone in your home and practise it.
  • Make sure that your belongings aren’t unstable and stacked so high they could fall over. In the event of a fire you could be injured or have your escape route blocked if things fall over.


  • Cooking is a common cause of fire so ensure you keep the cooking area clear.

Heating and electrics

  • Secure portable heaters up against a wall so that they don’t fall over. Keep them away from anything that could catch fire.
  • Don’t place items on top of electrical equipment, cables or lamps.


  • Cylinders are a serious fire hazard and shouldn’t be kept in your home. If you have a cylinder for medical reasons keep it upright and store spare cylinders outdoors if possible.
  • Never store cylinders in basements, under the stairs or in cupboards with electric meters.


  • It’s safer to smoke outside. If you do smoke inside use a proper ashtray that won’t tip over and never leave your cigarette unattended.

Dealing with paperwork

  • Newspapers and mail are particularly flammable and need to be dealt with on a daily basis. Recycle newspapers and post as soon as it is finished with. In the event of a fire they would cause it to spread rapidly.

Maintaining your property

  • Make sure you can maintain your property by keeping clear access to boilers and radiators.
  • A large amount of possessions in your home can weaken floors making your property unsafe. Make sure your belongings are stored safely and aren’t so heavy that the structure of your property is damaged.


  • Do not use candles in your home if you don’t have a large clear space away from items that could catch fire.

If you or a family member has serious hoarding issues please contact Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service for a free Home Safety Visit.

A visit involves a fire and rescue service employee visiting your home to give advice and guidance, without judgement or embarrassment.

They can help with the following home fire safety needs:

  • fit a smoke detector where one is not already present
  • provide advice about potential hazards in the home
  • talk through an escape plan for your property
  • provide additional safety items (subject to criteria).


The advice we offer is impartial and independent. Your details will not be shared with any other support agencies without your consent.

In the event of a fire:

Get out

Stay out


Call 999

Never be tempted to stop and collect things on your way out or to go back in.

For further information please contact

All our safety information can be made available in other languages. Please contact 0800 050 2999 to request a copy.

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