5 Fire and flood safety

Fire safety

Most Fire and Rescue departments in the UK offer free Home Fire Safety Checks; your relative may also be eligible to have free smoke alarms fitted in their home. Contact their local fire department for further information. In the meantime, there are many quick and easy things you can do that could make a real and immediate difference to fire safety.

  • Ensure there are smoke detectors around the home, and that they are in good working order. You can see Which? reviews of these products on this page of the Which? website. It is recommended that there is one smoke detector on every level of the home.
  • Help your relative to draw up a plan of what they would do in the event of a fire.
  • It’s always a good idea to have a phone beside the bed in case of emergency.
  • If your relative has a hearing impairment, particularly if they need to wear a hearing aid, then consider smoke detectors with a visual alert and/or a vibrating pad that sits under the pillow (in case of an incident during the night).
  • Some smoke, heat and gas detectors can be connected directly to a call centre, providing additional support and help in the event of a fire or other emergency.
  • If your relative is feeling particularly vulnerable, due to poor mobility or other health problems, discuss this with the local fire service or an occupational therapist, who can offer specific advice on what to do in the event of a fire.

Flood safety

Left unattended, a bathtub or sink can quickly overflow.

  • Ensure that your relative knows where to find the mains water stop tap – and how to use it.
  • Check to see that the tap is easily accessible, and is neither blocked nor obstructed.
  • There are a number of devices specifically designed to prevent baths (or sinks) overflowing, or to sound an early warning alarm if this happens.

Access to important facilities

Ensure that your relative can access and easily reach the mains water stop tap, fuse box, electric and gas meters, together with the isolator switch for the cooker. If this is not possible, consider having them moved, or involve someone else who you can brief – a neighbour, for example.

Displays on all the facilities should also be clear and easy to read. Prepayment meters should be in good working order and simple to operate.

Moving, adapting, replacing or installing any of these facilities should only be done by a qualified professional, such as a plumber for the water meter and an electrician for the fuse box. You or your relative should never attempt to undertake these tasks yourself.

Page last reviewed: March 2015
Next review due: November 2016