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New figures from London Fire Brigade show fatal fires increase in winter

More accidental, fatal house fires occur in the winter months

London Fire Brigade's new statistics show fatal fires increase during winter

The London Fire Brigade has released new figures about accidental, fatal house fires.

As the temperature drops and people spend more time at home using heaters, candles and cooking hot food, serious house fires increase - that's the stark message from London's firefighters this winter.

The Brigade has released new figures about accidental, fatal house fires, which show that fatalities in accidental dwelling fires are falling year on year.

However, the statistics also show that:

More accidental, fatal house fires occur in the winter months (November-January), than at any other time of the year.

Over half of the people who die in fires do not have a working smoke alarm.

Older and more vulnerable people, such as those with mobility problems, are much more likely to die in house fires. Just over half of all those who die in accidental house fires are over the age of 60.

Those who carelessly dispose of their smoking materials (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, tobacco) are much more likely to die in accidental house fires.

Accidental, fatal house fires are most likely to start in the living room (32% of fatal house fires start here), followed by the bedroom (31%) and the kitchen (18%)

The vast majority of fatal house fires are started by smoking materials (35%), followed by heating appliances, i.e., electric heaters, (14%), followed by cooking appliances, i.e., ovens, cookers (12%).

Accidental, fatal house fires are most likely to start in the living room (32% of fatal house fires start here), followed by the bedroom (31%) and the kitchen (18%).

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner for Community Safety, Andy Hickmott, said: "These statistics are shocking but tragedy can be avoided if you follow some simple safety advice. Electrical heaters and the three ‘Cs' - cigarettes, candles and cookers all pose a serious fire risk if not used carefully. Cigarettes that have been carelessly disposed of cause the deaths of several Londoners each year - I can't stress enough how important it is to put your cigarette out properly.

Over half of the people who die in fires do not have a working smoke alarm

"It's also absolutely essential to have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home and test them regularly. And if you've taken the battery out, go and replace it, it could be the best decision you've ever made. Smoke alarms can and do save peoples' lives, it's as simple as that".

London Fire Brigade has identified five "house fire hot points", which should serve to remind people to act safely in the home:

  1. Bedroom - falling asleep while smoking is a major cause of fires. Always put out cigarettes carefully and don't take them to bed with you.
  2. Living room - Make sure your cigarettes are completely out when you've finished smoking. Also, make sure all electrical appliances are in safe working order, replacing frayed cords and broken plugs. Plug sockets shouldn't be overloaded as this is also known to cause fires in the home.
  3. Kitchen - never leave your cooking unattended. New statistics from the Brigade show that accidental fires in the home are more likely to start in the kitchen than in any other room in the house.
  4. Lighting - candles cause lots of fires in London and should never be left unattended or near to flammable items, like curtains.
  5. Heating - electrical heaters, fires and electric blankets all increase your risk of having a fire in the home if not used carefully. Keep electrical heaters well away from flammable items like curtains and never leave them on over night or unattended.

Andy Hickmott went on to say: "Sadly, winter is a time where vulnerable people are at greater risk and tragically, many fire deaths involve older people or those who have reduced mobility.

"If you have older or less mobile friends, neighbours or relatives why not pay them a visit, check they're OK and make sure they have a smoke alarm? By doing so you could save a life."

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