Arson prevention

The problem
Arson is generally thought to affect businesses but one in five of all arson attacks in the UK are on residential properties. Every year there are around 15,500 arson attacks on homes killing 65 people and injuring a further 2000.

Major considerations
Where a house is otherwise secure the letterbox presents an easy way to introduce fire in to a property thereby effectively cutting off the main means of escape. Consideration should be given to either eliminating the need for a slot in the front door by fitting a box to the outside wall or installing a metal box inside the door to catch the mail.

An arson fire is more likely to develop and spread quickly. Smoke detectors are one of the most important fire safety investments you can make. Fitting a smoke alarm will not stop an arson attack but will provide valuable extra time to escape. Smoke alarms should comply with BS5446 Part 1 and have the British Standard Kitemark.

Smoke alarm advice
- One alarm per floor fitted in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.
- Check your alarm is working properly once a month.
- Replace the battery once a year.
- Vacuum and wipe the casing and slots once a year to ensure that dust isnít blocking the sensors.
- Plan an escape from your home in the event of a fire, talk about it with your family and rehearse it.
- At night close all doors that open on to the staircase. This will reduce the speed with which a fire will spread and provide additional time in which to escape.

- Visible intruder alarm boxes on the outside of homes make burglars and other intruders think twice about entering.
- A high wall or fence can also deter intruders. Make sure there are no weak spots in the protection.
- Make sure that access is denied to flat roofs and the like, from which entry may be gained via first floor windows.
- Make sure that you have a strong front door and it is fitted with strong locks and a chain. Breaking a glass pane in the door should not allow the nightlatch to be reached on the inside.
- Consider planting thorny bushes along perimeter fences.
- Close all windows when you are out. Even small windows can allow a young person to enter.
- Consider security lighting. Intruders like to work in the dark. Security lighting can be a powerful deterrent.
- Never leave spare keys hidden under the doormat or elsewhere.
- Lock all doors, including garages and sheds, when you are out.
- Ensure there is no combustible material lying around for an arsonist.
- Donít let rubbish accumulate and keep wheelie-bins away from the house.
- Keep all flammable liquids locked away.
- Encourage neighbours to keep an eye on your house and to contact the police if they see any intruders. Do the same for them.

What to do in a fire
- Never put yourself in any danger. Only attempt to put out a fire yourself then itís in its very early stages. If in doubt get out. It will help if youíve already planned and rehearsed your escape routes.
- Check the temperature of closed doors (but not the handles) for heat with the back of your hand. Donít open them if they feel warm.
- If the room becomes smokey, keep as near floor level as possible.
- Once out, call the fire brigade and stay out.
- If youíre trapped upstairs, if possible, shut yourself in a room with a window facing the road.
- Open the window and call for help.
- Seal the door with bedding /clothes and wait by the window for rescue.
- As a last resort drop bedding to cushion your fall and then lower yourself out of the window feet first and stretch to full arms length before letting go.
- Donít jump more than two storeys.

Arson prevention - Picture 1
Arson prevention - Picture 2
Arson prevention - Picture 3
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