Festive fire safety warning

Firefighters are warning Cambridgeshire residents to take a few moments to think about fire safety this Christmas.

In December last year (2011) there were 18 accidental house fires across Cambridgeshire.

Many people are unaware of the potential fire hazards and toxic threats that can lurk in fairy lights, candles and flammable Christmas decorations.

Kitchens are also a fire hotspot as the potential to be distracted while cooking is high at all times of the year - but particularly at Christmas when there are likely to be more people in the home and those cooking might be tempted to have a festive tipple.

As a result Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to take extra care as they get into the festive spirit this Christmas - dry Christmas trees, decorations and wrapped presents are all extra fuel for a potential fire into the home.

Andy Tucker, Risk Manager for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “The risk of fire in the home is an all year round issue - however people are particularly vulnerable at Christmas for many reasons ranging from unsafe electrical decorations and unattended candles through to cooking while under the influence of alcohol.

“People also vastly underestimate the deadly strength of toxic smoke and overestimate how long they have to escape should a fire break out. The reality is that just two to three breaths of smoke in a fire can render a person unconscious.

“Christmas should be a time for celebration rather than tragedy and for this reason I’m urging people to be fire aware and stay fire safe.”

Top Christmas safety tips:

Ensure you have a working smoke alarm on all levels of your home. Test your smoke alarms weekly and never remove batteries to power presents!

Never leave cooking unattended and avoid cooking while drunk. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.

Never leave candles unattended. Keep decorations, cards and wrapping paper away from candles, fires, lights and heaters.

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).

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.

Make sure cigarettes are extinguished properly and never smoke in bed. Put it out, right out.

Check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas to ensure their safety at this time of year.

In the event of fire: get out, stay out and call 999.