Main causes of fire

Common causes of fire in the home

In The Home

In the kitchen

  • Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing near flames.
  • If you leave the kitchen take your cooking off the heat
  • Turn saucepan handles so they don’t stick out where they can be accidentally knocked.
  • Don’t leave children alone in the kitchen when cooking on the hob.
  • Spark devices are safer than matches or lighters, to light gas cookers. Always keep them out of children’s reach.
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from hobs.
  • Double check the cooker’s off when you’ve finished cooking.
  • Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order as a build-up of fat and grease can start a fire.
  • Go careful when cooking with hot oil – it catches fire easily. If the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot. Turn off the heat immediately and leave it to cool.
  • Preferably, use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer, if they're in full working order with no defects then they shouldn't overheat.
  • If a pan catches fire, never throw water over it – it will make the fire much worse. If it’s safe to do so, turn off the heat and put your fire blanket over the pan. If it’s not safe, get out, stay out and call 999.
  • Keep electrics, like appliances, leads and sockets, away from water.
  • Don’t put anything metal into the microwave.
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from flammable items. Also make sure there are no kitchen units above them.


  • Unplugging appliances reduces the risk of fire – unplug them when you’re not using them, and particularly at night, when a fire can quickly spread unnoticed and cause more danger and damage.
  • Clean lint from tumble dryers and clean behind your fridge and freezer regularly to keep lint and dust from building up. Make sure there’s enough room behind these appliances for air to circulate freely.
  • Store electric blankets flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring. Check them regularly for wear and tear and don’t buy them second hand. 
  • Unplug electric blankets before you go to bed, unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use.

Overloaded sockets

  • Don’t overload sockets. It’s best to keep to one plug per socket. 
  • An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so be careful not to overload them to reduce the risk of a fire.
  • Know the limit! 5AMP + 5AMP + 3AMP = 13AMP
  • Large appliances, like washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves, as they’re high powered. An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so don’t overload it.
Faulty appliances and wiring
  • Watch out for frayed or loose wiring and other danger signs such as scorch marks, hot plugs or sockets, flickering lights, blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers for no obvious reasons.
  • Check and replace old cables or leads, especially if they’re hidden behind furniture or under carpets. 
  • Make sure any electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it

Candle safety

  • Make sure candles are in a proper holder and away from draughts and anything that could catch fire (such as curtains).
  • Put candles out when you leave the room.
  • Don’t leave children or pets alone with candles.
  • Make sure candles are out completely at night.
  • Use a snuffer or spoon - it’s safer than blowing them out, which can cause sparks to fly.

Heating and Gas safety



  • Secure portable heaters up against a wall to stop them from falling over.
  • Keep them away from bedding, curtains and clothing – anything which could catch fire.
  • Never use portable heaters for drying clothes and turn them off before you go to bed.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you want to fit your own gas appliances (like a fire in a spare fireplace), it's essential that you employ a 'Gas Safe' registered engineer to do the work.


  • If you have a gas supply, it's really important that you know where and how to turn it off in an emergency (it's usually located outside, where the gas pipes enter your property). A gas leak is a fire risk and carbon monoxide risk.

If you smell gas

  • DO call 0800 111 999 immediately (the Gas Network Provider freephone number)
  • DO put out naked flames (including cigarettes)
  • DO open all doors and windows
  • DO shut off your gas supply at the meter (this is usually located outside, where the gas pipes enter your property)
  • DON'T strike matches or light a cigarette
  • DON'T turn electrical switches on or off