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Fire and gas safety

fire safety flameHopefully, you’ll never have to deal with a fire or gas emergency in your home but accidents can happen – especially if you’re not careful. Read on for our top tips to preventing fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, and find out what to do in an emergency.

Fire safety

  • Smoke alarms

Universities are required by law to provide smoke alarms and other firefighting equipment like fire extinguishers and fire blankets in their student accommodation. Private landlords are also legally required to provide smoke alarms in houses with a HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) agreement – which covers most shared student houses. Ask your landlord or local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice if you’re not sure about this. If you are in a private house, test your fire alarms every week to make sure they’re working

  • Electrical appliances

It’s important that all electrical appliances are in good working order. This is your university or landlord’s legal responsibility for any electrical appliances they provide, but you also need to make sure any you bring with you are safe as well. Check to see that all plugs are wired correctly, and never overload plug sockets or extension leads as this can cause overheating. If an electrical appliance does catch fire turn off the electricity immediately, and NEVER use water on an electrical fire.

  • Cooking

Never leave any cooking unattended and make sure the cooker is completely turned off once you’ve finished. Be particularly careful when cooking with oil. If a deep-fat fryer or pan containing oil does catch fire NEVER pour water on it as this will cause a fireball.

  • Smoking

More people die due to fires caused by smoking than any other kind. The easiest – and healthiest – way to prevent this is by not smoking at all, but if you do smoke make sure your cigarettes are always completely stubbed out and NEVER smoke in bed. You should also be very careful if you’re using candles.

  • Know your escape

Make sure you know the fire evacuation procedure if you’re in university accommodation. If you’re in a shared house, then check that no doors or windows are blocked, and always keep the keys in a safe place everyone can get to. You should also check that all fire escapes are safe, and contact your landlord to make any necessary repairs.

fire engineWhat should I do if there is a fire?

If you start or discover a small fire, you might be able to tackle it yourself. But don’t try to be a hero, and if you have any fears for your safety, get everyone out of the house and call the fire brigade on 999.

Gas safety

Gas leaks can be extremely dangerous, and your landlord is legally required to have a gas safety check on all their properties once a year, so make sure you see an up-to-date gas safety certificate before you move in. Carbon monoxide poisoning can also be caused by faulty gas appliances. Landlords are not legally required to install carbon monoxide detectors in any property, but it’s definitely worth asking them for one or buying one yourself.

What should I do if I think there is carbon monoxide or a gas leak?

If you smell gas, turn off all gas appliances, put out all naked flames and open all the windows. If you can still smell gas, get out of the house immediately and call your landlord and gas supplier.

Carbon monoxide is more difficult to detect than gas because it has no smell. The first signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are normally dizziness, nausea and headaches and it can quickly be fatal. If you suspect you or anyone you live with has carbon monoxide poisoning, get everyone out of the house immediately and call an ambulance on 999.

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