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Celebrate the Lunar New Year Safely

With the Lunar New Year fast approaching, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is advising residents who plan to celebrate to take care and reduce the risk of a fire ruining the occasion.

Saturday, 10 February marks the beginning Lunar New Year, often referred to as Chinese New Year. The celebration usually involves fireworks, candles and flying lanterns, all of which carry a risk of fire.

Ahead of the celebrations, Gail Muirhead, Prevention Manager at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We want to encourage everyone who is celebrating Lunar New Year to do so safely. If you’re planning on using fireworks, only buy them from trusted vendors and ensure they are marked with a British Safety Standard certificate.

“We appreciate that some residents may want to use flying lanterns. However, we strongly advise against their use. Flying lanterns are impossible to control and pose a risk to crops, livestock and property. Instead, please use ground-based paper lanterns or candles, ensuring that they are placed securely on a flame-resistant surface.

“We wish everyone celebrating a happy Lunar New Year and hope you enjoy the celebrations safely.”

If you plan to celebrate Lunar New Year, a few simple precautions you can greatly reduce the risk of fire:

  • Do not use flying lanterns. Instead, use ground-based paper lanterns.
  • Ensure candles or ground-based lanterns are placed securely on a flame-resistant surface such as concrete, brickwork or stone.
  • Keep flames from candles at a safe distance from curtains, furniture and decorations. Long hair and clothing are also flammable so take care to keep them away from open flames.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and animals – children should be supervised at all times near flames.
  • Only buy fireworks from reputable retailers and ensure they are marked with British Safety Standard Mark 7114.
  • Build bonfires at least two metres away from sheds, fences, trees or any other structures.
  • Do not point fireworks at other people and hold them at arm’s length.
  • Do not return to a firework once it has been lit.

If a fire does start, remember to get out, stay out and call 999.