When it comes to keeping your home safe from fire, prevention is always better than cure, and protecting your home so fires don't start in the first place is far easier than putting them out.

Whether you live alone or are worried about protecting your family, you can make things significantly safer with very little effort using these 7 easy steps.

1. Fit and test your smoke alarms

In case a fire does start, you need to know about it as soon as possible, especially if you're asleep.

You are four times more likely to die in a house fire if you don't have a smoke alarm, so it's crucial to install one and keep it working. They'll also make you aware of the fire earlier; as well as keep you safe, this will give you more chance of putting it out before it spreads.

Put one up on at least each level of your home, and think about where they should go. The best place is on the ceiling in the middle of a hallway.

Maintaining your alarm is easy: just test them once a week, change the batteries each year and replace the entire alarm every ten years.

Fire blankets and extinguishers can put a fire out before it takes hold, but if it's not safe to do so, get out of the house and call the fire brigade instead. Make sure you keep them where they're most likely to be needed, such as the kitchen.

2. Have an escape plan

It's a legal requirement that your workplace runs a regular fire risk assessment, and it's important to be just as vigilant at home too. Have an escape plan (and keep exits clear) if there is a fire, and make sure everyone knows what it is - maybe even try practising it.

The best escape route is usually through your front door if possible, but choose a second one in case the main way out is blocked.

If you can't get out safely, pick a room you can use for shelter in the meantime - preferably with a window. Make sure everyone knows where the keys are kept too.

3. Stay vigilant

Do some checks before you go to bed: make sure that anything that should be unplugged has been, and that any cigarettes and candles are out. Closing doors can also help prevent a fire from spreading as quickly.

If it helps, make a checklist of things to inspect until you've got used to the routine. Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service have put together a good template you might want to base your own list on.

4. Educate your children

Fire safety for kids involves more than just explaining the escape route to them.

They'll need to understand the dangers of fire, but it's important to explain this without scaring them too much. Make sure they understand not to play with fire and to keep away from anything hazardous, but don't leave them thinking the house will spontaneously combust while they sleep.

They'll need to know not to play with matches or candles, to never fiddle with electrical appliances and sockets, to keep away from the kitchen when you're cooking and to not put their things near to heaters, lights and fires.

5. Identify potential fire risks

The best way to ensure home fire safety is by making it as unlikely as possible that a fire will even start, so think about what could cause danger in your house.

You will need make sure you are careful with the following common perils in your house and garden:

  • Candles

  • Fireplaces and Wood Burning Stoves

  • The kitchen

  • Bonfires

  • Fireworks

  • Barbecues

  • Boilers

  • Cigarettes

  • Electrical fires

6. Talk to the experts

Some fire services will check your home for any fire risks for you for free - and who understands fire safety better than a fireman or firewoman?

Contact your local station to see what advice and help they can offer you - you can find their address and telephone number on the UK Fire Service Resources website.

7. Check your insurance

You can take all the precautions in the world but things still might go wrong. To protect you financially, you'll need to make sure your insurance will cover you - if it doesn't, it's worthless.

You could be left short if insurers will invalidate your claim based on restrictions they have on types of property they will insure.

Equally, if there are limits on how much you can claim or in what circumstances you can claim, you could be stuck.

Read our guide for some tips on guaranteeing you're covered: 10 Ways to Make Sure Your Home Insurance Will Pay Out When You Need It To.