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Fire safety for carers

Some older or vulnerable people may be more at risk from fires in their home. As a carer, friend or family member, there are certain things you can do to help keep them safe.

Who is at risk?

Daughter caring for elderly mother

Older people or those with disabilities are often more likely to need help in staying safe.  However, you should be aware of anyone who may:

  • find it hard to quickly escape from their home in a fire
  • find it hard to fit and test smoke alarms
  • feel confused by an alarm, such as dementia sufferers
  • smoke – this is the largest cause of fatal fires
  • be less likely to spot fire safety warning signs, such as scorch marks around plug sockets
  • be hoarding, as fires can spread fast in very cluttered spaces, which may also prevent a quick escape
  • be more likely to forget to put out things like candles, turn off ovens or leave cooking unattended
  • use medical equipment that may pose a fire risk (for example, oxygen, emollient cream and incontinence pads)

What to do

Woman adjusting a hearing aid

These are some things you can do to help someone you are worried about: 

  1. Make sure they have a smoke alarm in the room where they spend most of their time and at least one on every level of their home. Test they are working at least monthly.  Specialist strobe lights and vibrating pad alarms are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Contact the RNID Information Line on 0808 808 0123 or textphone 0808 808 9000.
  2. Look out for these warning signs:
  • cooking or lit candles left unattended
  • full ashtrays or cigarettes that have been carelessly thrown away
  • burn marks on clothing, bedding, carpets or furniture
  • hoarding

If you are really worried about someone and you are not sure what to do, or are concerned about the person's ability to escape in the event of the fire, speak to your local fire and rescue service or your local council.

Find your fire and rescue service 

  1. Make sure telecare systems are always linked to smoke alarms – talk to the telecare provider if you are not sure how to do this.
  2. Encourage them to read our tips on how to protect your home from fire. There are leaflets you can print for them if they are less comfortable accessing information online. 
  3. Get a free home safety visit (see information on getting expert advice below).

Get expert advice

Your local fire and rescue service offers free home safety visits, sometimes known as safe and well visits, to look at any fire risks and advise on staying safe in the home. Anyone can request a visit but they are usually targeted at people who are particularly vulnerable from fire.

Your fire and rescue service may be able to install smoke alarms free of charge, including specialist alarms, for example, strobe light and vibrating pad alarms for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.  

In addition to fire risks, the visit may explore if someone could benefit from other local services such as health and accident prevention services. 

If you are not a carer, but you are worried about someone who may be at greater risk from fire, please contact your local fire and rescue service:

Find your fire and rescue service