Are house fires more common in a heatwave?

This summer, the UK has experienced unprecedented levels of heat, seeing the hottest ever temperature of 40.2C recorded at Heathrow. This, along with significantly reduced rainfall, has caused a draught to be declared in many areas of the country, along with crop failures, wildfires, power outages and transport issues.

As a result of these record-breaking temperatures, individuals and businesses are starting to see new risks emerging that weren’t on their radar before, including an increased risk of fires in their buildings, subsidence and even theft. With scientists predicting that the frequency and severity of extreme weather will increase in the coming years, action needs to be taken now to educate people on the increased risks that they face in the summer months.

Increased fire risk in a heatwave

In usual circumstances, domestic fires peak in the winter months when people use fuel-burning devices in their homes. However, the summer months aren’t without risk – with the number of incidents relating to garden fires steadily rising over recent years. As we experience hotter and more extreme temperatures, the risk of a house fire increases, and may occur in areas you don’t expect.

We can see this in the Wennington fires, occurring on the hottest day in the UK, which tore through 40 hectares of grassland, farm buildings, houses and garages – forcing 90 families to evacuate their homes. This was thought to have occurred when a compost pile spontaneously combusted and caused London Fire Brigade to declare a major incident.

Where there’s smoke…

Did you know that you can cut the chance of dying in a house fire by 50% just by installing a working smoke alarm? Yet 10% of British households still don’t have working alarms in place.

Many local fire brigades will carry out free inspections of your home to check for hazards and offer advice. They will check your smoke alarms are in the right locations and install any extra alarms if required. The eligibility criteria for smoke alarm installation varies from region to region, but the advice on its own can be a lifesaver, nonetheless. If you’re not eligible for a free smoke alarm, you can obtain these cheaply from DIY stores and supermarkets. They will also run through a checklist to determine the risk level of your home and what measures you can take to reduce it.

What you can do to stay safe

We take a look at some areas you should consider to reduce the risk of a fire in your home during a heatwave.

  • Keep technology out of direct sunlight
  • Keep reflective items out of direct sunlight including mirrors, glass and crystals
  • Do not leave charging devices under soft furnishings
  • Avoid overloading plug sockets
  • Clean fans out regularly to avoid dust build-up
  • Don’t leave tumble dryers on overnight
  • Regularly clean lint out of tumble dryers
  • Be extra cautious when charging Vape batteries as these carry more of a fire risk than smoking
  • Close curtains on windows that face the sun during the day
  • Regularly discard combustible rubbish, including garden waste and cardboard
  • Discard cigarettes in suitable ashtrays
  • Position barbeques on a flat sturdy surface, far away from combustibles
  • Never light a BBQ in an enclosed space

Does Home Insurance cover fire damage?

While most Home Insurance policies do account for fire damage, the amount that will be covered is judged by your individual policy. To get this right, it’s important that you accurately value the rebuild cost of your home, as well as the full value of your contents. If you underestimate this figure, you could be underinsured and at a loss should the worst happen. At CISL, we can talk you through everything so you know exactly what is and what isn’t covered. For a no-obligation chat, just get in touch on 01737 373222


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