Things to think about

Take precautions to prevent fire at home with an early warning system and sensible escape routes. First, fit effective alarms.

Follow manufacturers' guidelines precisely when positioning, fitting and maintaining a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm. Smoke alarms should be fitted on every level of your home.

An ionisation smoke alarm detects fast-burning fires with flames. Place them in a lounge and bedroom, but avoid locations in or close to a kitchen or bathroom.

A photoelectric or optical smoke alarm detects smouldering, slow-burning fires and smoke rather than flames and is best for a hall or landing. Save vital seconds by keeping a fire extinguisher upstairs.

A heat alarm is activated by temperatures above 57°C or 135°F, and is designed for kitchens or garages to minimise unwanted alarms.

A battery smoke alarm is easily installed and should be checked and maintained regularly. Test the batteries every week and change them once a year. All smoke alarms have an audible low battery warning. Always follow the manufacturer's guidelines.

A mains-operated alarm is wired to a dedicated, permanent supply that cannot be accidentally switched off, and is backed up by batteries in the event of power failure. These need to be installed by a qualified electrician.

Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are also essential safety devices that must be fitted in your home. Do not confuse them with smoke alarms as they do not detect smoke, but the presence of CO instead. An accumulation of odourless carbon monoxide can be fatal and collects when fuel-burning appliances malfunction or are badly fitted.

It is essential that gas appliances and/or flues are regularly services by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Also make sure that if you have an open fire, your chimney is swept once a year.

In the kitchen it is handy to have a fire blanket, which will smother fire or wrap a person whose clothing is on fire, and a multi-rated domestic fire extinguisher. A CO2 extinguisher will minimise damage.

Make sure that windows open and close easily and security keys are readily available. Consider fitting egress friction stay hinges, so that the windows can be fully opened.

Escape ladders, of various lengths, will hook over upper floor sills.

Fire doors slow the spread of fire. They are required by building regulations in some buildings. They are hung as usual, but doors and hinges are fire rated and fitted with door closers and intumescent strips, which swell after exposure to heat to create a tight seal.

A door closer is fitted to a fire door. Fitting a door closer to an existing door will not make a fire door, but some doors can be upgraded to provide greater fire resistance; a door closer will be part of this upgrade. Seek professional advice on upgrading doors.

Fit a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm


Ideally, find a ceiling joist, then mark fixing points with a pencil. You can use a cable, pipe and stud detector to help with safe and secure positioning.


If you cannot find a joist, you can still attach an alarm, but to make a secure fixing, use hollow wall plugs. Drill pilot holes and insert the plugs.


Screw the backing plate for the alarm unit securely in position, but do not overtighten as you may damage the wall plug.


Fit the main body of the alarm, following the manufacturer's guidelines. Fit and test the battery to make sure the alarm is working.


Follow the manufacturer's guidelines precisely for fitting a carbon monoxide alarm. Only use batteries that are recommended.


You must pay particular attention to where the alarm should be positioned. Fix the alarm in place on the wall, as directed.

Fit a concealed door closer


Mark the height of the closer on the hinge side of a door that is already hung. Mark the depth of the closer cylinder on the drill bit with tape.


Drill a hole to the depth marked on the bit. Make sure the hole you bore is very precise, so that the closer will fit in smoothly when inserted.


Insert the cylinder of the door closer into the hole until the plate is flush. Draw a pencil line around the edge of the plate as a guide.


Take the cylinder out and carefully chisel out thin slivers of wood inside the pencil line to remove the wood to the depth of the plate.


Reinsert the cylinder and slowly close the door so that the back edge of the anchor plate, with the small central ridge, marks the door lining.


Take out the cylinder, place over the mark and pencil around the plate. Chisel within the guideline to the anchor plate depth.


With pliers rotate the anchor plate, position the cylinder in the door edge, drill pilot holes and secure the inner plate in place on the door edge.


Carefully pull the anchor plate away and position the holding clip provided in place, to stop the chain being pulled back inside the cylinder.


With the chain slack, in its extended position, check again that the anchor plate sits snugly in place and pilot drill and secure it in position.


Finally, remove the holding clip with some pliers and test the door to see if it closes smoothly. The door closer strength can be adjusted.