Plan ahead to reduce threat of festive fires

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Firefighters who know only too well how people can let down their guard at this time of year have issued a ‘word to the wise’ warning about the potential perils of Christmas.

The distractions of a crowded house and celebrations can often result in accidents but Richard Thake, Herts County Council’s cabinet member for community safety, says: “By being aware of the risks you can ensure that you and your loved ones can celebrate in safety.”

Top tips include:

l Make sure you have a working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home. Test it regularly and never remove the batteries to use in Christmas presents.

l Check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas to ensure their safety.

l Never leave cooking unattended – most fires start in the kitchen. Avoid cooking if you’ve been drinking, always turn off appliances when you have finished cooking.

l Never leave candles or tea lights unattended. Make sure they are in appropriate non-flammable holders, keep them out of the reach of children and away from furniture, curtains, decorations, cards and wrapping paper.

l Put your cigarette out properly. Make sure it is fully extinguished and take care when drunk or tired.

l Don’t overload sockets – ensure only one plug per socket. Always turn off plugs when they are not in use.

l Unplug fairy lights before you go to bed, or leave the house. Check lights conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598).

l Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment.

l Make sure that everyone in your home, including guests, knows what to do in a fire.