With the festive season now in full swing, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) urges you to put safety at the top of your Christmas list this year by celebrating safely.
Fire safety is important throughout the year, but the festive period brings extra distractions which make it especially important to be vigilant to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe.
One of our commitments to the people of Berkshire is to educate people on how to prevent fires and other emergencies, and what to do when they happen. Here are some simple steps to help you and your family stay safe from fire over the festive period:
- 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 every week 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. If you smoke, 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.
- 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 a 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 knows what to do in the event of a fire – get out, stay out and call 999.
Iain Harrison, Manager for Prevention, said: “Christmas is a time when friends and family get together to enjoy the festivities. It is also a time where the risk of fire in the home increases due to the added distractions that come with these celebrations. Make sure you protect yourself and your loved ones by ensuring you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home. Also be sure to check on elderly relatives or neighbours to make sure they have working smoke alarms.”
Another potential risk associated with December is the colder weather. Many households may begin to use additional or alternative heating sources in a bid to stay warm as the temperature drops. The weather can also cause dangerous conditions on the road, with rain and ice increasing the risk of a road traffic collision.
Here are some tips to help counter the cold conditions this December:
- 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.
- Drive for the conditions. In wet weather stopping distances will be at least double those required for stopping on dry roads.
- Regularly check the tread and pressure of your tyres, that all your lights work, and the condition of your windscreen and wipers.
- Keep your distance. Remember the two second rule and leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front.
Councillor Christine Bateson, Community Safety Member Champion, said: “Conditions on the roads over the festive period can be treacherous at a time when many make long trips to see family and friends. Make sure you take the necessary precautions before setting off and always drive for the conditions on the roads.”