Cold weather sparks chimney and road safety warnings

PUBLISHED: 11:15 06 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:07 17 June 2010

AS the cold weather continues across Devon and Somerset, the Fire & Rescue Service are urging home owners to keep warm safely by taking particular vigilance over their chimneys and driving safely.

AS the cold weather continues across Devon and Somerset, the Fire & Rescue Service are urging home owners to keep warm safely by taking particular vigilance over their chimneys and driving safely.

The warning comes as the two counties have seen another drop temperature in the last few weeks with cold mornings and evenings taking a hold.

Public Relations Officer Paul Slaven said: "Chimney fires are one of the most common incidents that we attend. Many properties have lost the roof, first floor or in some cases been completely destroyed.

"The consequence of having a chimney fire includes the damage caused directly by the fire, along with the dirt and smell from the soot and smoke, which can affect all of your personal property."

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service ask people to:

* Have your chimney swept regularly (prevention is better than cure).

In normal use, chimneys should be swept as follows:

* Solid fuel appliances: Once per year at least for smokeless fuel/Twice per year at least for coal.

* Wood burning appliances: Quarterly when in use.

* Gas appliances: Once per year if designed for sweeping.

* Oil fired appliances: Once per year.

Is the brickwork around your chimney sound? If it is not then there is the possibility of fire spreading to the house or roof.

* Do not overload the grate or appliance.

* Maintain your appliance in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

* Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires.

* Consider having a carbon monoxide detector fitted as an additional safeguard against the build up of poisonous fumes.

* Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.

* Ensure your chimney flue is inspected at regular intervals. The loft or roof space should also be checked.

In all circumstances ensure you have working smoke alarms so any sign of fire will be detected early; consider installing smoke detectors in roof spaces to make sure all areas are protected. Request a free Home Safety Visit and it could result in your property being fitted with free smoke alarms.

For a free Home Safety Visit please call 0800 73 11 822.

To find out the contact for your local chimney sweep, contact the National Association of Chimney Sweeps on free phone 0800 833464.

Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs) due to the continuing icy conditions are another concern. Fire Officers, together with the Road Safety Partnership, urge motorists to exercise extreme care in the continuing cold spell by:-

* Allowing extra time to make journeys;

* Reducing speed;

* Making sure that windscreens are completely free from ice and frost;

* Travel if absolutely necessary;

* Only drive if you are fit to do so.

Full Community Safety advice is available from DSFRS Website or by contacting your local community fire station.

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