With over 16,000 people killed or injured each year in domestic fires, the winter brings added risks related to heating appliances, candles, Christmas decorations and festive fun.
“A house fire can start unexpectedly at any time,” says Jane Garland Chubb Fire’s Marketing Communications Manager. “People need to be particularly careful at this time of year as often the simplest thing such as a heater too close to a curtain or a set of fairy lights left on for too long can lead to devastating results.
“Over 57,000* homes each year suffer some form of fire, and for many the consequences can be devastating in both loss of life and property. The good news is that fires in the home fell 4% between 2004-2005 and fortunately, a few common-sense precautions can help further reduce accidents this winter.”
To help people prepare for winter, Chubb has put together a 12-point guide to fire safety:
1. Fit a fire or smoke alarm. Test your alarm and change the batteries at least once a year.
2. Never leave fires, matches, candles or any form of naked flame in the home unattended, and ensure candles are secure before lighting.
3. Most fires start in the kitchen - never leave a cooker unattended and keep a fire blanket or suitable extinguisher handy.
4. Avoid wearing baggy clothes while cooking and around heaters, candles and open fires.
5. In case of a fire, have a plan. Make sure you have more than one escape route should your passage become blocked.
6. If you have gas, oil or coal-burning appliances be aware of carbon monoxide. Ensure your home is properly ventilated and equipment is regularly serviced and maintained.
7. If you have an open fire make sure the fire guard is secure and in place (ensure you maintain your chimney).
8. Turn off portable heaters, as well as gas and electric fires before going to bed. The same applies to fairy lights and other electronic decorations at Christmas.
9. Keep heaters away from furniture and curtains, and never place candles near your Christmas tree or furnishings. Christmas decorations can burn easily so never attach them to lights or heaters.
10. If you have an electric blanket ensure that it meets the correct BS standards and is not showing any signs of wear or tear.
11. The risk of accidents is greater after the consumption of alcohol - be sure to celebrate Christmas and New Year safely.
12. Use your common sense.
Jane Garland concludes: “We are all guilty of bringing the extra heater down from the loft and turning it on without rechecking if it is fit for use. It is all too easy for people to be lazy and not take adequate precautions to prevent a fire in the home, the consequences of which can be devastating. During the winter people need to be extra vigilant, particularly in the coming months as it gets colder and people go to extra lengths to keep themselves and their homes warm.”
* Source: Department for Communities and Local Government, Fire Statistics Monitor for 2005.