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Don’t let fire ruin festive cheer this christmas

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Fire statistics show that in December, 20 people a day are either killed or injured in accidental fires in the home in England. Although fire safety is important at every time of year, the extra distractions of Christmas make it especially important to be vigilant during the festive season.

In December 2011 there were 2,834 accidental fires in the home in England – more than any other month of the year. This is why HWFRS is reminding people to take extra care over the festive season to ensure that their families and loved ones are protected from fire.

Station Commander Alan Haley from HWFRS, said: “Christmas is a time for festive cheer with family and friends. But fairy lights, candles and decorations means it is also a time to take extra care to keep our family and loved ones are safe from fire”.

He continued, “We’re encouraging people through our Winter Safety Campaign to think about fire safety ahead of and during the Christmas period to avoid the risk of their Christmas being ruined. Ensure your Christmas decorations and lights conform to British Standards, that candles are put in suitable holders and are kept away from curtains, and as we remind people all year round, never leave cooking unattended. Taking a little extra care and following these simple tips will ensure everyone is safe to enjoy the festivities.”

He added: “It’s also important to consider others who may not have the same level of support and who may be at greater risk from fire. In the spirit of the festive season, can I urge people to consider any elderly relatives or neighbours, and to help them follow our safety tips below:”

  • Ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed on all levels of your home. A working alarm can give you the vital time needed to escape in a fire. Test your smoke alarms regularly and never remove batteries to power presents!
  • Check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas to ensure their safety as they are at greater risk from fire.
  • Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Avoid cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol and always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended. Keep candles out of the reach of children, and away from decorations, cards and wrapping paper, fires, lights and heaters.
  • Put your cigarette out, right out. Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguishedand take care when drunk or tired. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight.
  • Don’t overload sockets – ensure only one plug per socket. Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.
  • Ensure you switch off fairy lights and unplug them before you go to bed, or leave the house. Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598).
  • Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment. This safety device can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault and can be found in any DIY store.
  • Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire – in the event of fire: get out, stay out and call 999

From everyone at Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service we wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas.