Don’t let fire be an unwelcome guest this Christmas

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THE latest fire statistics show that nationally, 17 per cent of all accidental dwelling fire fatalities occur in December.

In light of this, Warwickshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service are reminding residents to put safety first over the festive period.

Most of these fires can be attributed to the distractions of a crowded house, cooking being left unattended and the added influence of alcohol. In addition homes are often fitted out in Christmas decorations and trees, all of which can act as extra fuel for a fire.

In 2010/11, there were over 31,477 house fires nationally. This resulted in 212 fatalities and 6,429 injuries.

To remind residents about the potential dangers they face over the festive period, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service are supporting the national ‘Fire Kills’ campaign.

A Christmas video launched as part of the campaign shows in graphic detail just how fast a fire caused by faulty decorations can take hold and emphasises the vital importance of planning an escape route and making sure that your guests know how to get out, stay out and call 999.

Community Safety and Youth Development Manager, Moreno Francioso said: “The hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations can often push fire safety out of our minds. But in reality, the start of festive celebrations bring a whole cocktail of fire risks into the home – from the distractions of a crowded house while cooking and the slower reaction times that result from alcohol consumption, to the potential dangers of overloaded plug sockets, flammable decorations and unattended candles.

“Christmas is a time for celebrating with family and friends, and we want to keep it that way. By being aware of the risks and making a few simple checks, you can ensure that you and your loved ones can celebrate safely.”

Top tips for the festive season include:

·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 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 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

To watch the Fire Kills video visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/firekills or log onto YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMtjGfr0tYs