Sometimes as many as eight out of ten house fires in Hertfordshire on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day can be caused by cooking.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Allan Witherick said “When I go back to see my family it’s great- but there are a LOT of distractions to keep us busy with a young niece and nephew and everything else going on it’s too easy to leave the festive cooking unattended, and the drinks which accompany it probably don’t help!”
While no Christmas party would be complete without a few decorations, dry Christmas trees, flammable decorations and stray wrapping paper can all act as extra fuel for a fire sparked by overheated sockets, faulty fairy lights, unattended candles or carelessly discarded cigarettes.
Here are some top tips to help you celebrate in safety this festive season:
- 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.
“Christmas is also a great excuse to meet and visit your neighbours.” added Allan. “Not everyone has friends or relatives near by and so it can be incredibly lonely, so do take the opportunity to talk and meet with neighbours.”
- Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Avoid cooking while 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, including guests, knows what to do in a fire – in the event of fire: get out, stay out and call 999.
You can find more fire safety information at www.hertsdirect.org/fire