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Don't let fire ruin festive cheer

Photo: Press Association

Firefighters are urging people in Cumbria to put fire safety at the top of their Christmas list.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service says while fire safety is important throughout the year, the extra distractions of Christmas make it especially important to be vigilant during the festive season.

“Christmas is a time for festive cheer with family and friends. But fairy lights, candles and decorations mean it is also a time to take extra care to keep our loved ones safe from fire.

"The colder weather brings its own menaces too. Take care when using portable heaters or open fires to keep warm.”

– Mark Ducie, Community Safety Manager at Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service

Christmas fire safety hints and tips include:

  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms installed 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, right 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.
  • Never use heaters to dry clothes. 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.
  • 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) and are in good working order before use.
  • 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.
  • Do something good 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 that 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.