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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Winter Fire Safety as Clocks Change

As the clocks change, temperatures drop and the dark nights close in, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to keep safe from fire in their homes.

"Elderly people can be particularly vulnerable at this time of year due to the increase in use of portable electric heaters and open fires."

Ian Sloss, Head of Risk Reduction for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Statistics reveal more accidental house fires take place during winter than at any other time. Last winter, four elderly people died following fires in their homes, two of which involved heating devices.

Desperate to avoid such incidents the Service launched an Older Person’s campaign in October to run until March 2011, The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of fire safety amongst older people and those who care for them.

Head of Risk Reduction for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Ian Sloss, said: "More accidental fires happen in winter than at any other time of the year.

"Elderly people can be particularly vulnerable at this time of year due to the increase in use of portable electric heaters and open fires.

"Portable heaters should never be left on unattended overnight while fireguards should cover an open fire at all times and people must always remember to keep their candles away from curtains, material and furniture."

The  Service have produced a number of posters and leaflets targeted at both the elderly and those who care for them, to raise awareness of the importance of fire safety and booking a Home Fire Risk Check.  The posters are being circulated to places where elderly people visit, including libraries. Care associations, social care and health professionals and other organisations that help care for the elderly are also being targeted with the campaign message.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is also urging people – particularly the friends, family and neighbours of elderly people – to have them book a free home fire risk check. A home fire risk check involves firefighters or a service technician visiting people in their home to give them fire safety advice, discuss escape routes and fit equipment such as smoke alarms and fire guards.

The freephone number to ring to request a check is 0800 0241 999 and on ringing you will be able to arrange a mutually convenient time for the visit to take place.

Tips on staying safe this winter:-
Unplug your electric blanket before you get into bed – unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use.
Always position heaters so their back is against the wall and they’re facing the room.
Keep portable heaters clear from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.
Make sure candles are in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire such as curtains.
Put candles out when you leave the room and ensure they are completely out when going to bed.
Sweep the chimney before use if you haven’t used it for sometime.
Always keep a fire guard in front of an open fire.