London Fire Brigade

Advice for carers

A third of the people that die in fires every year are looked after by a carer, whether that is a family member, friend or a professional carer. We believe that by working together, we can reduce fire deaths and injuries of vulnerable people.


There are some simple actions you can take if you’re caring for some to make them less at risk of from fire. We would always advise booking for a Home Fire Safety Visit.

Smoking

We would like everyone to stop smoking, but if the person you care for can’t or won’t stop smoking, we suggest trying e-cigarettes.

Scorch marks on the floor, furniture or clothing are a sign that your person might be at risk. So, when caring for some who smokes:

  • provide proper ashtrays and empty them regularly
  • stop the person smoking anywhere they may fall asleep
  • don’t let the person smoke near any oxygen based equipment or paraffin based products like emollient creams

Cooking

The majority of fires in the home are caused by cooking - usually when someone leaves the cooking unattended. When you’re caring for someone things to consider about cooking are:
factors that might make people forget about their cooking – alcohol, medication or a health condition that effects their memory



  • fitting a heat alarm in the kitchen – they’re triggered by heat so don’t go off when you’re cooking
  • loose baggy clothing – it can easily catch on a hop, or a pan
  • specialist equipment – cookers that let you know when they’ve been left unattended.

Health Equipment and products

Over-the-counter health equipment such as flammable emollient creams and incontinence pads are common features of serious and fatal fires. Try these few tips when caring for someone who needs these types of products.



  • use paraffin free emollient creams – they’re no more expensive and much safer
  • do not use electric blankets with paraffin based emollient creams
  • store incontinence pads away from naked flames and where the person smokes
  • don’t smoke, leave hot items, or use electrical goods, like electric blankets on airflow mattresses
  • keep Home Oxygen away from open flames and fires. And do not let your person smoke while using Home Oxygen.
  • Install domestic sprinklers and link t smoke detection to telecare systems.

 

Hoarding


Hoarded materials can easily catch alight if they come into contact with heat sources such as overloaded extension leads, the kitchen hob or naked flames like candles or cigarettes. Because of the amount possession, fires will also spread much faster.




The key points for anyone living in a hoarded property are:

  • do not light candles or tea lights of any kind
  • make sure the person smokes outside, if they smoke
  • develop an escape plan
  • book a Home Fire Safety Visit ASAP

 

Alarms


Smoke and heat alarms can save lives. Every home should have alarms fitted on the ceiling in all areas of risk and should be tested regularly.




Heat alarms are best for kitchens and smoke alarms can be fitted in most other rooms except for the bathroom, as steam from the hot water could cause false alarms.

Consider these points about alarms for the person you care for.

  • interlinking alarms, so that when one alarm detects a fire they all go off together
  • if a Telecare system is fitted, this should be linked to the fire alarms
  • specialist strobe light and vibrating pad alarms available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • automatic water systems such as sprinklers could be needed for people who may not be able to escape easily.