Home Fire Safety for elderly relatives – what you need to know

Have you stopped to think carefully about Home Fire Safety for elderly relatives? Most fires that involve death or serious injury take place in people’s homes.  Fatalities from fire are more common in the elderly than any other age group.  Detecting a fire before it has a chance to spread gets harder as we age due to changes in our senses.  Whilst mobility issues and cognitive decline may make escaping a fire more difficult.

Actions you can take to improve  Home Fire Safety for elderly relatives.

Free Home Fire Safety Checks

Contact your local fire service to request a free home fire safety check.        These checks are available to the elderly, people with mobility issues, people who receive care at home, and those with any visual or auditory impairment. To find out more, visit the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service website or call 08005876679. If you live in Oxfordshire, click here to visit the website or call 01865842999.

Escape plan

Think about the best route to escape in the event of a fire.  Would you be able to escape if there was a fire in the middle of the night? Is your route free from blockages and clutter?  Remember, your house may be dark and full of smoke, making it even more difficult to find a way out.  Making an escape plan in advance, practicing it and talking to those who visit or live with you about it can save lives.

The best escape route is your usual way in and out of your house. Choose a second route, just in case the first one is blocked. Keep both routes clear of obstructions. Always keep door and window keys in the same place and make sure everyone knows where they are.

If you can’t escape, you will need to find a room to take refuge in, especially if you have difficulty moving around or going downstairs on your own. The refuge room should have a window and a phone. Keep a copy of your address by the phone, so children or visitors can read it out to the emergency services.

Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms should be installed at the bottom of the stairs and on each stair landing. The alarm should be positioned on the ceiling near the centre of the room. If you have any elderly relatives or neighbours, please test their smoke alarms for them since they are at far great risk.

If you have a smoke alarm, you should test the batteries every month, change the batteries every year, every six months gently vacuum to remove dust and every ten years replace the entire smoke alarm. One option to consider is a monitored smoke alarm. Telecare service such as Forest care will regularly test your alarm for you, also if the alarm goes off they will call you and if needed call the emergency services.

home fire safety

Cooking safely

  • Always keep looking when cooking, don’t get distracted – Never leave cooking unattended
  • Take extra care when cooking with oil as it can set alight easily
  • Keep the oven, hob and grill clean
  • Keep tea towels, cloths and other items away from the oven and hob area
  • Take care if you are wearing loose clothing
  • Don’t cook if you’ve been drinking alcohol or taking medication

Electrical safety

Look out for loose wiring, scorch marks, hot plugs/sockets, flickering lights, fuses that blow or circuit that trip. If you spot this, stop using the device and get it seen to or replaced. Always unplug electrical appliances and chargers when not in use, including when you go out or to bed. Be sure to never overload sockets. Keep appliances clean and in good working order.


If someone does smoke in your home, make sure they use a proper ashtray, never a wastepaper basket. Lit cigarettes should never be left unattended. Never smoke in bed and take extra care if you smoke when you’re tired, taking medication, or if you have been drinking.

Oxygen users

Never use oxygen equipment near an open flame. When using oxygen equipment, never let anyone smoke or use e-cigarettes near you. Be aware also never to let anyone change or charge batteries near you.

You might also want to read our article about Emollient Fire Risk.


Berkshire fire services: covers Home Fire Safety everywhere in Berkshire, Newbury, Bracknell, Wokingham, West Berks etc – https://www.rbfrs.co.uk/your-safety/safety-at-work/partnership-referral-form/ paper copies can to be posted to: Newsham Court, Pincent Kiln, Calcot, reading RG31 7SD

Oxfordshire County Council:   01865816000: covers Henley, Goring, Wallingford, Streatly (and Oxford) – https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/fire-and-public-safety/fire-and-rescue-service/safe-and-well-visit


Gardiner's Homecare