Advice and information

Barbecues should be fun, and will be safe if you prepare properly. DAR Services advises that barbecue lovers should take the following precautions:

When choosing a barbecue, stability is essential – ensure the one you choose is strong and sturdy

Check your barbecue is in good condition (particularly if you have not used it for some time) and look for loose or damaged parts that may need adjustment or repair

Consider the location – level ground, away from fences, sheds and overhanging trees, which have been known to catch fire

Never light a barbecue in an enclosed space

Prepare the barbecue early to ensure it is at the right temperature by the time you want to cook

Particular care should be taken in hot, dry weather to reduce the risk of starting a forest or grass fire

Never pour petrol or other accelerants on to a barbecue. Some of the most serious barbecue-related accidents happen when people do this and the barbecue ‘explodes’ in their face

Use long-handled tools

Be careful of steam when opening foil parcels

Remember that the metal parts of a barbecue can become hot – don’t try to move it until it has cooled down

Don’t leave children unsupervised near a barbecue

Make sure the barbecue is fully extinguished before you leave it

Take care when getting rid of a disposable barbecue, or barbecue coals – ensure they have cooled down before placing them in a bin.

Tips for barbecuing in a public place:

If you are planning to have a barbecue in a public place, ensure that you are allowed to do so at the location you intend to use – and never leave the barbecue unattended

Take care when getting rid of a disposable barbecue or barbecue coals – ensure they have cooled down before placing them in a bin.

Colder weather can bring the need to use electric heaters and blankets to keep warm.

Use these guidelines to reduce the risk of fire and check that your blankets meet safety standards.

Choosing your electric blanket

When choosing your electric blanket, you should buy it from a reliable source. Check that it has a European safety standard mark.

This is a symbol that means the blanket has been independently tested and meets the latest European safety standards. 

The examples on the right show the type of symbols to look for.

Before you use your blanket, make sure that it – or its power cable – doesn’t show any of the following danger signs:

Scorch marks or discoloration areas are visible on the fabric of the blanket

Wires are visible or poking through the fabric

Fabric is frayed or worn

There is damage to the power cable between the plug and the blanket’s control mechanism or between the control and the blanket

The control makes a buzzing sound when switched on or gives off a scorching smell

The blanket’s connector – where the electrical cable plugs into the blanket – is damaged or over-heating

If you are in any doubt about your blanket, contact the manufacturer before you use it to make sure that it is safe. It may need to be replaced.

Storing your electric blanket

Even when your blanket is not in use, you can leave it on the bed all year round or place it flat on a spare bed. If you put the blanket away, it should be stored as the manufacturer recommends or as follows:

Loosely fold or roll it in a towel or plastic bag and store the blanket in a cool dry place

Let the blanket cool down before folding

Don’t use any moth-proofing chemicals

Don’t place heavy items on top of the blanket while it is being stored

Here are some further safety tips

Always buy new when choosing an electric blanket – never buy secondhand blankets, they may not be safe and you can’t be sure they meet current safety requirements

Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions before use

Examine your blanket regularly for signs of wear or damage

Never use an electric underblanket as an overblanket (or vice versa)

Don’t use the blanket while it’s still folded or creased

Don’t use a hot water bottle at the same time as using your electric blanket

Don’t touch the blanket if you have wet hands or feet, and never use the blanket if it’s wet or damp

Don’t insert or use pins to hold the blanket in place on the bed

Smoke alarms are essential for every home.                         

However, you may feel that you need extra fire safety equipment, perhaps because you live in a remote place or have high-risk appliances or equipment in your home.

Using fire emergency equipment

When a fire occurs, it is important to get out, stay out and call 112.

Emergency equipment can be helpful, but it is important to know how and when to use it.

Unless it is safe to do so, you shouldn’t attempt to tackle fires yourself.

Fire extinguishers

There are three main types of fire extinguisher: powder, water and foam

No single type of extinguisher is totally effective on every kind of fire.

Before buying one, it’s vital to look carefully at what kinds of fires it can be used on.

That way, you can make sure you get one suitable for your own needs.

Multi-purpose dry powder extinguishers or Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) extinguishers are usually the best choices for home use.

They have the fewest dangers and are effective on many types of fire.

Tips for the safe use of any type of extinguisher

Make sure you read the instructions and are familiar with how to use it

Only buy one you can carry easily

It is best placed in the hall and taken where needed

Don’t put it near a heater or fire, but do fix it to the wall, so that it is out of the reach of children, but easily accessible by others

Get it serviced once a year (or as often as the manufacturer recommends)

When using the extinguisher on a fire, keep yourself on the escape route side of the blaze


There are several things you can do to prevent fires in the kitchen. Make sure you don’t get distracted when you are cooking, and: 

  • take pans off the heat or turn the heat down if you’re called away from the cooker,
  • take care if you’re wearing loose clothing as it can catch fire easily
  • don’t cook if you have been drinking alcohol or taken prescription drugs – you may get drowsy or lose concentration


Cooker and toaster safety

You can prevent fires when using a cooker or a toaster by following these simple tips:                   

  • turn saucepans so the handles don’t stick out over the edge of the hob or over another ring
  • double check that the cooker is off when you have finished cooking
  • make sure tea-towels aren’t hanging over the cooker and don’t put oven gloves on top of a hot cooker
  • keep the oven, hob and grill clean – built-up fat and bits of food can start a fire
  • check that the toaster is clean and well away from curtains and empty the crumb tray regularly


Cooking with oil

You need to be especially careful when you are deep-fat frying or cooking with oil because hot oil can catch fire easily. Make sure you:

  • don’t fill a chip pan or other deep-fat fryer more than one-third full of oil
  • use a thermostat-controlled deep-fat fryer, which will make sure the fat doesn’t get too hot


Dealing with a fire 

  • If a pan catches fire in your kitchen:
  • don’t move it because it will be very hot
  • turn off the heat if it’s safe to do so – do not lean over the pan to reach the controls
  • don’t use a fire extinguisher on a pan of oil because the force of the extinguisher can spread the fire
  • never use water on chip pan fires as this will cause a fireball, use a fire blanket to smother the flames if it safe to do s
  • get out, stay out and call 112
  • If an electrical appliance catches fire, don’t throw water on it. If it is safe to do so, you may be able to put out the fire immediately by:
  • pulling the appliance’s plug out
  • switching off the power at the fuse box
  • If the fire doesn’t go out, get out of the house, stay out and call 112.

Fire safety equipment

Don’t fit a smoke alarm in a kitchen or bathroom where it could be set off by cooking fumes or steam. If you find your smoke alarm goes off a lot accidentally, you can buy one that is fitted with a ‘hush’ button. This means you can silence it instantly so you’re not tempted to remove the battery (except to change it for a new one).

Ventilation equipment

Check regularly that the ventilation in your kitchen, like range hoods or fans, is working properly and is not blocked up.

This is especially important if you have a gas cooker in case any leaking gas builds up.

The number of boat fires on coastal and inland waters is relatively low. 

However, when they occur they can have devastating consequences. 

Due to the remote location of moorings, it can be difficult to gain access to the incident, which on many occasions results in the total destruction of boats.

Top Ten Safety tips 

Barbecues shouldn’t be used on boats –  hot charcoal gives off dangerous amounts of CO and blown embers could set your boat alight.  

Keep cabin ventilation clear to prevent a build-up of toxic CO.

Make sure all hobs have shut-off or isolation valves.

Use a trained marine electrician to install and service electrics.

Store gas cylinders outside, in a self-draining and fire resistant locker. Keep them upright and secured from moving.

Only carry spare petrol if necessary and store it in a self-draining locker or on open deck.

Don’t go to sea without a VHF radio. Have a charged-up, hand-held, waterproof one ready for use at any time.

Check extinguishers on a regular basis for serious dents, leaks and loss of pressure.

Have enough life jackets for everyone on board, and keep them in good condition.

Make sure people know how to close emergency valves and switches in case of fire

You are at least 4 times as likely to die in a fire at home if you haven’t got a working smoke alarm.

A smoke alarm is the easiest way to alert you to the danger of fire, giving you time to escape.

They are cheap, easy to get hold of and easy to fit.

How many smoke alarms do you need?

The more alarms you have, the safer you’ll be – as long as they are working – so make sure you test them weekly.

You should have a minimum of one alarm on each floor. However, if you have only one alarm and two floors, put it somewhere you’ll be able to hear it when you’re asleep.                 

If you have a large electrical appliance, like a computer, in any of the bedrooms, you should fit a smoke alarm there too. You should also make sure you test it weekly.                 

Installing your smoke alarm                 

Some fire and rescue services in England offer free home fire risk checks. This involves firefighters visiting your home and offering fire safety advice for you and your household. They may be able to install your smoke alarm for free.

It usually takes a few minutes to install your smoke alarm yourself – just follow the manufacturer’s instructions that come with it. 

The best place for your smoke alarm is on the ceiling, near or at the middle of the room or hall.

The alarm should be at least 30cm (one foot) away from a wall or light.

If it is difficult for you to fit your smoke alarm yourself, ask a family member or friend to help you, or contact your local fire and rescue service.

Choosing a smoke alarm

There are two types of smoke alarm:

Ionisation alarms

Ionisation alarms are the cheapest and most readily available smoke alarms.

They are also very sensitive to ‘flaming fires’ – fires that burn fiercely, like chip-pan fires. Ionisation alarms will detect flaming fires before the smoke gets too thick.

Optical alarms

Optical alarms are more expensive. However, they are more effective at detecting slow-burning fires, like smouldering foam-filled furniture or overheated wiring.

Optical alarms are less likely to go off accidentally and so are best for ground-floor hallways and for homes on one level.

For the best protection, you should install one of each. However, if you can’t have both, it’s still safer to have either one, rather than none at all.

Whichever model you choose, you should make sure that it meets British   Standard BS EN 14604 and ideally also carries the British Standard Kitemark. 

The different models available               

A lot of people forget to check their smoke alarms, so the best choice of power supply is usually the one that lasts longest.

Standard-battery alarms

An ‘ionisation battery alarm’ is the cheapest and most basic smoke alarm available. An ‘optical battery alarm’ is a little more expensive. Both run off 9-volt batteries.

Battery alarms with an emergency light

These come fitted with an emergency light which comes on when the alarm is triggered. They are particularly suitable if someone in your house has hearing difficulties and may help light up an escape route.

Alarms with ten-year batteries

These are slightly more expensive, but you save on the cost of replacing batteries. They are available as ionisation/optical alarms and are fitted with a long-life lithium battery, or a sealed power pack that lasts for ten years.

Mains-powered alarms

These are powered by your home’s electricity supply and need to be installed by qualified electricians. There’s no battery to check, although they are available with battery back-up in case of a power cut.

Interconnecting or linked alarms

Some alarms can be connected to each other so that when one senses smoke, all the alarms in the property sound. They are useful for people with hearing difficulties and also in larger homes.

Mains-powered alarm with strobe light and vibrating pad

These are designed for people who are deaf or have hearing difficulties. If there’s a fire, the alarm alerts you with a flashing light and vibrating pad – which is placed beneath your pillow.

Mains-powered alarm which plugs into a light socket

This type of alarm uses a rechargeable battery that charges up when the light is switched on. It lasts for ten years and can be silenced or tested by the light switch.


Hearing loss and smoke alarms

It is vital that people who are deaf or hard of hearing have the right smoke alarms in their home to protect them and give them that valuable time to escape from a house fire

Important Information About Mains Powered Smoke Alarms

Smoke Alarms are designed to give you the earliest warning of a fire situation in your home, giving you and your family valuable time to get out, stay out and call the Fire & Rescue Service.

If your property is fitted with mains powered Smoke Alarms we would like to inform you of the following.

Most smoke alarms whether battery powered or mains powered have a 10 year service life, after which they should be replaced to ensure you maintain the best protection in your home.

If the contractor who installed your alarms has not left you with the date they were installed check for the replacement dates as follows.

This information may be located on the side or back of the smoke alarm.

It is important that your smoke alarm is regularly tested and maintained to maximise its life expectancy and also replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Maintaining your smoke alarm

To keep your smoke alarm in good working order, you should:

Test it once a week, by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds

Change the battery once a year (unless it’s a ten-year alarm)

Replace the whole unit every ten years