RBFRS’ 12 Days to Christmas – Top Tips To Help Keep You Safe This Festive Season

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is sharing their advice to help residents stay safe during the festive period. Although fire safety is important year-round, the festive season brings extra fire hazards such as open fires, decorations and candles. However, the risk of a fire can be greatly reduced by following some simple safety advice.

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Gail Muirhead, West Hub Prevention Manager, said: “We understand that safety might be the last thing on your mind as the excitement begins to build, but we want to encourage you to keep it at the top of your priority list. There is a lot to consider in the festive season - colder weather, decorations, an increase in chimney and candle usage and much more - but as part of our ’12 Days to Christmas’ campaign this year, we are sharing our top tips to help keep you safe and reduce the risk of a fire spoiling your festivities. We also want to reassure you that our team will be continuing to respond to incidents as normal over the festive period, but by following our safety advice, you can help them too.”

PC Liz Johnson, Road Safety Officer for Thames Valley Police Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit, said: “We hope that you enjoy celebrating the festive period this year, but please take care if you are drinking. The legal alcohol limit in the UK for driving is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. However, since this depends on a variety of individual factors, the safest way to avoid a road traffic collision is to avoid driving completely if you are drinking. Not only could there be legal consequences if you drink drive, but it could cost lives. Please do not drink and drive, it’s not worth the risk.”

Ben Voller, Head of Operations for South Central Ambulance Service, said: “Candles and other naked flames can lead to fire and injury if not handled safely. 668 children a month require admission to an NHS Burns Service following a severe burn or scald injury. That’s why we are working with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service this winter to raise awareness of how people can prevent a fire from breaking out from a candle in the first place, but also what to do should an accident happen. For advice on preventing a candle fire, take a look at the advice below. If an accident does happen and your clothes do catch fire, remember: stop, drop and roll to smother the flames. If you receive a burn, remember cool, call and cover. For further advice and guidance on how you can treat burns just go to the NHS website.”

This year we are running a ’12 Days to Christmas’ campaign, sharing 12 pieces of advice to keep you safe over the festive period:

  1. To avoid taking a dip, lookout for ways you could slip…Water in the winter will be freezing cold and could cause fatal cold water shock if you fall in. If you’re out for a winter walk or run, look out for trip or slip hazards, especially if the paths are icy and water levels are high.
  2. Festive lights are great, if you consider fire safety while you decorate…Decorations can be made from highly flammable material. Check that decorations you buy have the correct safety marks and do not attach them to lights or heaters.
  3. To look after your Christmas tree, regular watering is key…Christmas trees can become a real fire hazard if they are not cared for properly. Keep your tree watered to prevent it from drying out and accidentally setting alight.
  4. Don’t drink and drive, drive to stay alive…If you’re going out for a festive drink, make sure to plan your journey home and do not get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol. Organise a designated driver, catch a bus or get a taxi – it’s not worth the risk.
  5. Keep your house cosy and safe, put a fire guard over your fireplace…With the weather being much colder during December, you might be using open fires to keep your house warm, but remember to use a fireguard to protect yourself from flying embers.
  6. Cooking Christmas dinner is a big job, just remember to keep your eye on the hob…We know cooking is a big part of the festive period, but remember to keep looking while cooking and keep your eye on the hob at all times!
  7. Candles are pretty without a doubt, if you make sure to blow them out…Candles and other naked flames can cause fire and injury if not handled safely. Fully extinguish them when you leave the room and keep them away from materials that may burn.
  8. Press to test, weekly is best…When did your last test your smoke alarms? We recommend that you test yours at least weekly. It only takes a couple of seconds, but it could save your life.
  9. While you countdown the sleeps, remember to give your chimney a sweep…If you’re spending more nights by the fire, ensure that you have had it properly swept and maintained. Find out how to book a chimney sweep on the National Association of Chimney Sweeps website.
  10. If there are boxes on the floor, keep them away from the door…Avoid leaving clutter that builds up during the festive period blocking fire exits. Clear your clutter so you can make a safe and swift escape in the event of an emergency.
  11. If online shopping is a must, buy from retailers you trust…Online markets often sell faulty electrical items that are at risk of causing fire or exploding. If you are shopping online, only buy from retailers you trust.
  12. Do you know where to find your nearest defibrillator? Download the ‘Save a Life’ app to locate your nearest one, it could just save a life.

To keep up with our campaign, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and look out for the hashtag ‘#RBFRS12Days’.