SEDGEMOOR'S largest housing provider has shared advice for reducing the risk of domestic fires following several reports in the area.

Homes in Sedgemoor, which looks after homes owned by Sedgemoor District Council on its behalf, said ‘clutter and hoarding’ can fuel domestic fires that can destroy properties and cause harm to people.

A Homes in Sedgemoor spokesperson said: “Every year, more than 37,000 household fires are reported in the UK and more than 260 people die in these fires. A further 7,300 are injured.

“One in ten of these fire victims are children. However, fire safety is not an issue that comes to our minds very often as we go about our daily routine. Yet in many homes, there may be dangers that can take lives and destroy properties.

“In recent months, there have been a number of domestic fires in Homes in Sedgemoor properties in Somerset, some caused by appliance failures, but more commonly these occur because of people’s lifestyles. General clutter and hoarding are a significant source of fuel for fires.

“Homes in Sedgemoor works hard to make premises as safe as possible by reducing the risk of fire with smoke alarms and fire doors in flats, but you can do your bit too.”

Homes in Sedgemoor's tips to make properties safer:

• Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and test it weekly. Report any defects straight away to Homes in Sedgemoor (if living in a property it manages).

• Whether you use a traditional oven and hob, or other methods of cooking like a portable stove, make it a priority to keep the cooking area clear.

• Do not place items on, or close to heaters, lamps, or other electrical equipment.

• Do not store gas cylinders in your home as they are a serious hazard during a fire. If you have a medical need for gas cylinders, for example you require oxygen, they should be kept upright and outdoors where possible. Do not store cylinders in basements, under stairs or in cupboards with electric meters/equipment.

• If you smoke, use a proper ashtray that won't burn and put it on a flat, stable surface so that it can't fall over easily. Do not leave your lit cigarettes unattended.

• Avoid using candles or tea lights, if you must use them place them in heat resistant holders that hold the candle or tea light firmly. Ensure the holder is placed on a flat, stable, heat resistant surface. Keep the candles or tea lights away from anything that can catch fire, and never leave them unattended.

• Plan and practise how to escape from your home if there was a fire. Choose an escape route and keep it clear of possessions. In the event of a fire, this will help you to escape quickly or allow firefighters to reach you if you are unable to escape.

• Ensure possessions are stored on stable surfaces and do not stack items to a height that they become unstable - they could fall over, blocking your escape.

• Newspapers and mail stored in bulk are highly combustible and will cause a fire to spread rapidly. Sort mail and newspapers on the day you receive them and recycle them on a regular basis.

• In the event of a fire, do not attempt to put it out yourself. Leave your home straight away and call the fire service once you are safely outside. Do not stop on your way out to collect possessions and do not go back inside once you have escaped.

• Do not leave clothing or piles of clothes underneath items such as boilers.

Bin store fires

• Bin stores can become a fire hazard if they become overloaded. Arson can also be an issue.

• Make sure bins are not overflowing and do not overload bins. Lids to bins should be able to shut fully.

• Keeps any combustibles away from electrics if the bin store has lighting.

• Secure the bin store after each use by closing the doors until they catch (if the bin store is enclosed).

• Report any missed collections to Homes in Sedgemoor or Sedgemoor District Council.

• Do not place any hot items in the bins, for example smoking materials, hot embers from coal, wood or ash from BBQs.

• Do not store wheelie bins or domestic waste near windows or doors as any fires could spread into your property.

• Report any blockages in bin chutes as soon as possible to HiS.

Outdoor fires

• This includes garden fires and BBQs.

• Do not light fires when it is windy.

• Do not store BBQ equipment or combustible fire loads near the building.

• Do not build fires or fire pits near to the property, shed, garage, fences or hedges.

• Do not use flammable liquids (paraffin etc.) to start a fire.

• Never burn rubbish such as aerosol cans, pain, foam furniture or batteries.

• Keep a bucket of water or hose pipe nearby in case the flames need to be extinguished.

Further information, advice and support about hoarding can be accessed via The MIND charity's website: