Festive Fire Safety
Christmas dinner, wrapping presents, decorating your home – there’s lots to think about this Christmas. But one thing is urging residents to put top of their Christmas lists this year, is fire safety.
While fire safety is vital throughout the year, the extra distractions of Christmas make it especially important to be vigilant during the festive season. This is why Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) is asking people to take extra care over the festive season to ensure that their families and loved ones are protected from fire.
Safe & Well Manager, Vikki Thomas 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 loved ones safe from fire. Ensure you place candles in suitable holders and away from curtains, never leave cooking unattended 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.”
DWFRS has put together the following tips:
- Have working smoke alarms on all levels of your home. Working alarms can give you the vital time needed to escape in a fire. Test your smoke alarms regularly and never remove batteries!
- Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Many of us enjoy a merry tipple over the festive season but be sure to avoid cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol. 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. Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished and take care when under the influence of alcohol or tired. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight.
- Don’t dry clothes on heaters. Heaters can start fires when things are placed too close to them. Keep them well away from curtains, clothing and furniture.
- 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.
- 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) and are in good working order before use.
- 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 for someone else 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 as they are at greater risk from fire.
- Make sure 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
For more information on maintaining fire safety in your home over Christmas please visit www.dwfire.org.uk/christmas-safety or to see if you are eligible for a FREE Safe and Well visit, please call 0800 038 2323.
Risk of fire in thatched properties
Last week a semi-detached thatched cottage in the hamlet of Hodson near Swindon was destroyed by fire. In order to fight the fire and also save the adjoining cottage, some sixty firefighters from 12 fire crews – from Swindon (two), Stratton, Westlea, Marlborough, Cricklade, Pewsey, Chippenham (two), Trowbridge, Melksham and Malmesbury – were sent to the scene.
Also mobilised were the Swindon aerial appliance, an incident command vehicle from Stratton, water carriers from Ramsbury and Royal Wootton Bassett, and an operational support unit from Swindon.
Firefighters were able to create a fire break in the thatch, which prevented the blaze from spreading to the neighbouring property. Furniture and possessions were also salvaged from the ground floor of the affected cottage.
Group Manager Kathy Collis praised the local community for its support throughout the day: “On such a bitterly cold morning, to have hot drinks, mince pies and other refreshments provided by neighbours and the local pub, the Calley Arms, was incredibly welcome, as was the food provided by the Plymouth Brethren. There has also been a huge amount of support for the affected family, and the British Red Cross emergency response team from Swindon has been at the scene to provide additional help.”
Advice on how to reduce the risk of fire in a thatched property can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/thatched-properties
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service offers free Safe & Well visits – to find out if you qualify, call 0800 038 2323.