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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Don’t Let Your Christmas Go Up in Smoke

09/12/2010

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging people not to let their Christmas go up in smoke with statistics revealing most accidental house fires happen during the Festive season.

"We don’t want families to have their Christmas spoilt because their house has burnt down or even worse a loved one has died in a house fire."

Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive, Peter Dartford

The Service is urging people to ensure their grandparents and other elderly relatives, neighbours and friends are safe from fire this Christmas, by booking them a free home fire risk check. The appeal comes after two elderly men died in fires in their homes last month.

Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive Peter Dartford said: "More accidental house fires happen in December than at any other time of the year, which is why it’s so important to consider fire safety. We don’t want families to have their Christmas spoilt because their house has burnt down or even worse a loved one has died in a house fire.

"Elderly people in particular are more vulnerable to fire because they are more likely to find it difficult to get out of their property quickly – by booking them a home fire risk check we can ensure the likelihood of a fire occurring in their home is reduced. We’re eager for relatives, friends and neighbours of elderly people, particularly those who live alone, to make contact with us on 0800 0241 999 so we can arrange to visit them – if we don’t know about these people we can’t help them."

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service attended 65 accidental house fires in December last year, a 23% increase in the average number of house fires for the rest of the year.

Peter Dartford added: "There is an increase in fires at Christmas because there are extra distractions and more fire hazards. Our main advice is to ensure you buy British Standard fairy lights, place candles in holders and away from curtains, never leave cooking unattended and of course, check your smoke alarms are working."

Festive Fire Safety Tips

• Most fires start in the kitchen so it’s important to never leave cooking unattended. Make sure you turn off your oven and stove when you have finished preparing the meal.
• With so much going on, it’s easy to miss some common risks.  Make sure children aren’t in the kitchen when you’re cooking and ensure that matches and lighters are out of reach.
• Keep decorations, cards and wrapping paper away from candles, fires, lights and heaters. Never leave candles unattended and take extra care when drinking alcohol.
• 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 on outdoor electrical equipment (a safety device that can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault).
• Don’t overload sockets – ensure only one plug per socket. Make sure plugs are turned off when they are not in use.
• Make sure cigarettes are extinguished properly and refrain from smoking in bed.
• Take time to check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas, as they are at greater risk from fire.
• And finally …ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed on all levels of your home. Check batteries on a weekly basis and ensure you don’t remove them to power presents.