Latest fire column

WELCOME to the latest edition of our monthly column with fire safety advocate Michelle Fitzpatrick.

By now Christmas trees will be decorated, stockings hung and presents wrapped - the festive season is well and truly upon us.

It is a wonderful time of year to spend with friends and family and Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

However, amid all the celebrations we urge you to spare a thought about safety – your own, your family’s and that of any friends you have visiting over the festive period.

Statistics show that you are 50 per cent more likely to have a fire in the home during the Christmas period than at any other time.

Fairy lights, decorations, using candles and portable heaters, cooking while under the influence of alcohol and having the house filled with additional family and friends can all add to the risk of experiencing a fire at home.

The following advice will help make sure you and your family stay safe this Christmas.

Ensure your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard and always remember to switch off and unplug them before you go to bed.

Always use an RCD (a safety device that can save lives by instantly switching off the power) on outdoor electrical equipment such as garden lights.

Cards and decorations should be placed well away from heat and light sources such as electric heaters, gas fires, light bulbs and candles.

We also recommend stocking up on extra batteries at Christmas to avoid the temptation of removing them from your smoke alarm. You should also remember to check your smoke alarm to ensure you can rely on it to work in an emergency.

As the majority of fires start in the kitchen, it is important never to leave cooking unattended and young children should be kept well away to avoid burns and scalds.

Furthermore, items such as candles, lighters and matches should also be kept out of the reach of children.

Be careful if drinking alcohol and make sure smokers extinguish their cigarettes completely.

Ensure your family and visitors staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency and practice an escape plan in the event of a fire.

We also recommend that you take the time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours to make sure they are fire safe too.

Finally, if you are planning to celebrate with fireworks, store them in a metal box, read the instructions and keep a bucket of water nearby. And remember, you should never go back to a lit firework.

And steer clear of using Chinese lanterns as part of your celebrations as they can start fires if they fall to the ground while still burning.

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Stay happy this festive season and keep your friends and family safe by making fire safety a priority!