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Festive fire safety

Published: 17 Dec 2015 13:00
Part of:
Law and order

Minister joins fire crew on home fire safety visit.

The public are being urged to keep safe over the festive season which traditionally sees a rise in the number of preventable house fires.

Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, joined firefighters on a home safety visit to support the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Festive Safety Campaign.

The SFRS campaign highlights the importance of fire safety during December and January.

A rise in alcohol consumption, leading to more cooking after drinking; overloading electrical sockets and issues with festive lights and decorations all contribute to the increase in fire numbers over this period.

Mr Wheelhouse visited the Lauriston Park Sheltered Housing Complex where he was able to see how a home safety fire visit is carried out and speak to the resident who benefited from the helpful inspection and safety advice.

Mr Wheelhouse said:
"We want everybody to enjoy the festivities in a way which is safe from the dangers of fire. As December and January is a time of increased house fires, it is crucial that people think carefully about fire safety and follow some simple safety advice which can save lives. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, misusing of electrical appliances, overloading electrical sockets and increased use of naked flames in open fires and candle use are all potential risks.

"Figures released this week show the number of house fires continues to fall, with 2014/15 seeing the second lowest number of fires in the past decade. SFRS crew are carrying out more fire safety visits than ever before, but we all need to do our bit to avoid the potentially devastating impact of preventable fires.

"The festive period is traditionally a time when we think about others and many of us visit friends, relatives and neighbours. I'd encourage everyone to take some time to think about those who might be vulnerable to the risk of fire in their homes, and be vigilant to any signs that they are putting themselves in danger, particularly when smoking or drinking alcohol."

Area Manager for Prevention and Protection, Martin Millar, said: "Christmas is a time when people should look out for others and think about their well-being. That can make a real difference and help us prevent tragedies.

"We want residents to consider their own safety and the safety of those close to them, with people urged to check if older family members, neighbours and friends have working smoke alarms.

"We work closely with partner agencies and communities to reduce the number of accidental house fires through the delivery of targeted Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV) and the installation of free smoke alarms.

"Anyone who is worried a person they know may be at increased risk should put them in touch with us so that our firefighters can get them the support they need and help them stay safe and confident in their homes."

Notes to editors

SFRS have compiled some simple measures that the public can take to keep themselves safe from fire throughout the holidays:
• Check your smoke and heat alarms are working. Replace the batteries now, if necessary.
• If you have an open fire make sure your chimney is swept. Always use a fireguard, secured in position, to protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
• Never place Christmas cards or decorations around the mantelpiece where an open fire is being used.
• Check your Christmas light plugs are fitted with the correct fuse, don't overload extension leads and ensure all electrical devices are Intertek BEAB approved.
• Always switch Christmas lights off and unplug them before you go to bed.
• Decorations can burn easily – don't place them near lights or heaters.
• Never leave cooking unattended, especially when using hot oil. For an early warning of fire, consider fitting a heat alarm in your kitchen.
• If you've been drinking alcohol, avoid cooking as this is associated with greatly increased fire risk.
• Smoking is the main cause of death from fire in the home. Avoid a smoking related fire by making sure cigarettes are put out properly. Never smoke in bed. Don't smoke in your chair if you've been drinking alcohol or you're feeling tired. If you do feel tired, smoke outside or stand up and smoke at a window or outside door.
• Take time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours this Christmas and Hogmanay, as they are at greater risk from fire, particularly if they suffer from ill health or a disability – taking care to identify potential trip hazards that could leave an individual vulnerable.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service would like you to have a very happy, safe Christmas and New Year. If you or someone you know is vulnerable or may be at risk from fire please get in touch and arrange a FREE home fire safety visit with local firefighters by calling 0800 0731 999 or visit www.firescotland.gov.uk

A wide range of tips on how to keep yourself and your home safe from fire are available on the SFRS website: www.firescotland.gov.uk/winter