Celebrate safely this Christmas- Fire Service

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is urging Devon residents to put at fire safety at the top of their Christmas list this year

CHRISTMAS dinner, wrapping presents and decorating the house - there's lots to think about this Christmas. But one thing Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is urging Devon residents to put at the top of their Christmas list this year is fire safety.

Government figures reveal that in December, 25 people a day are either killed or injured in accidental house fires in England. Although fire safety is important at every time of year, the extra distractions of Christmas make it especially important to be vigilant during the festive season.

In England in 2006 there were 3,530 accidental house fires in December - more than any other month of the year. This is why Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are reminding people to take extra care over the festive season to ensure that their families and loved ones are protected from fire.

Home Safety Manager David Hodge says: "Christmas is a time for having fun with family and friends; however it is also a time when extra fire hazards are introduced into the home such as fairy lights, candles and decorations. We are urging you to think about fire safety by ensuring that you buy British Standard fairy lights, place candles in holders and away from curtains, and never leave cooking unattended. Following simple guides will make sure everyone is safe to enjoy the festivities."

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Fairy lights and Christmas tree lights don't get used very often, so you should ensure they're in good working order before using them:

Check that the fuse in the plug is the right size (see the box for the maximum size of fuse you should use).

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Replace bulbs that blow.

Don't leave lights on when you go to bed or leave the house.

Don't let the bulbs touch anything that can burn easily, such as paper or fabrics (be especially careful with other Christmas tree decorations).

Festive decorations made of tissue paper or cardboard burn particularly easily, so keep decorations and greeting cards away from heaters, lights, fireplaces and candles.

Other Christmas advice to consider:

Check on elderly relatives and neighbours - make sure they are fire safe.

Celebrate safely this Christmas and New Year. The risk of accidents is greater after alcohol is consumed.

Most fires start in the kitchen - never leave cooking unattended.

Give your elderly relatives and neighbours a life-saving Christmas gift.

Make sure that they have a working smoke alarm. If they are hard of hearing; vibrating alarms are available from various specialist retailers.

Make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished.

Check the battery in your smoke alarm (if it is not a 10-year battery smoke alarm) and use Christmas as a reminder to clean it and remove dust.

Always test your smoke alarm weekly, vacuum monthly and change the battery yearly.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service carry out free Home Safety Visits to help keep you safe from fire. For more information on fire safety in the home go to www.direct.gov.uk/firekills. For a free Home Safety Visit please call 0800 73 11 822.

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