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Don’t let fire put a damper on your celebrations this Christmas

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Present-wrapping, decorating your home and dinner with all the trimmings will hopefully take our minds off other concerns this yuletide, especially now that the Government has given the go-ahead for the Christmas break.

But Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and the national Fire Kills campaign are reminding people that fire safety always needs to stay high on their Christmas lists.

While fire safety is vital throughout the year, the extra distractions of Christmas make it especially important to be vigilant, so HWFRS is asking people to take extra care over the festive season to ensure that their families and loved ones are protected from fire.

In recent years, excessive alcohol consumption has been a major contributor to fire-related casualties, so if you are having some festive drinks, please don’t drop your guard.

Last Christmas, between 24 December 2019 and 1 January 2020, there were more than 120 incidents in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, more than 30 of which were fires.

Over the Christmas period, more than half of the fires were accidental, including 14 accidental dwelling fires in which cooking was the most common cause. The kitchen was the most common start place for fires to occur.

15% of non-fire related callouts were for road traffic collisions and other vehicle incidents.

There were also more than 50 false alarms throughout the period.

HWFRS Community Risk Manager Emma Roberts said: “Christmas is a time for festive cheer with family. But fairy lights, candles and decorations mean it is also a time to take extra care to keep our loved ones safe from fire.

“Make sure you place candles in suitable holders and away from curtains and, at this time of year, from Christmas decorations, never leave cooking unattended, especially with so much more food than usual on the go, and of course, test your smoke alarms.

“The colder weather brings its own menaces, too. Take care when using portable heaters or open fires to keep warm.”

Here are some simple tips from the Fire Kills campaign to help you and your family enjoy the joys of Christmas safely:

Check your Christmas tree lights carry this British Safety Standard sign

  • ensure you have working smoke alarms installed on all levels of your home. Test them regularly and never remove batteries.
  • never leave cooking unattended, especially the extra quantities for a Christmas meal. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high-risk area.
  • 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 extinguished and take care when under the influence of alcohol or tired.
  • never use heaters to dry clothes. Heaters can start fires when things are placed too close to them. Keep them well away from curtains, clothing and furniture.
  • don’t overload electric 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
  • 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.
  • do something good this Christmas. Test the smoke alarms of someone you know who may need help such as an older relative or neighbour to ensure their safety.
  • make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire – in the event of fire you should Get out, Stay out and Call 999.
  • watch the Fire Kills campaign’s short Christmas Tree video at: http://youtu.be/hMtjGfr0tYs .

“From everyone at HWFRS, we wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas.”