'Smoke house' used to highlight Christmas safety message

smoke pouring from houseWith Christmas just around the corner Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is highlighting some of the most common festive dangers in the home.

A house was set up to demonstrate some festive risks which can be easily avoided.

Crews made use of an empty property provided by Merlin Housing Society to demonstrate the risks associated with Christmas candles, fairy lights, overloaded sockets and cooking.

Firefighters filled the three bedroom house with synthetic smoke to demonstrate just how hard it is to find your way out of a house fire. The exercise showed the importance of planning an escape route and proved why smoke alarms are so important.

Neil Liddington, South Gloucestershire Unitary Manager for Avon Fire & Rescue Service said: “We’re really keen to highlight some of the dangers people face in the home at this time of year. In many cases just taking a few small precautions will dramatically reduce the risk of fire starting, ensuring a happy Christmas.

“However we know that sometimes accidents do happen, so with lots of families getting together over Christmas we want to encourage people to think about how they would get out if there was a fire in the middle of the night.

“It’s really important that everyone in the property knows how to escape safely and that plans are practiced by the whole family, especially children. If you can’t escape, close the door, block any gaps underneath it, get to a window and raise the alarm.

“It’s also important to ensure you have working smoke alarms in your home. Smoke detectors provide an early warning that a fire has broken out and will give you and loved ones vital extra minutes to escape. Only a working smoke alarm can save a life, so we would encourage everyone to test theirs ahead of the Christmas break.”

Merlin Housing Society Operations Director, Amanda Meanwell, said: “We fit smoke alarms in all our properties and regularly check to make sure they are working. It’s part of our commitment to helping residents stay safe in their homes. Our staff also work with Avon Fire & Rescue Service to refer residents who would benefit from one of their free home fire safety visits.

“We’re pleased to be working with Avon Fire & Rescue Service again this Christmas to raise awareness of the importance of smoke detectors and planning an escape route in the event of a fire.”

candles burning near decorationsSafety advice to reduce the risk of fire in your home over the festive period:

  • Take care when using candles. Never leave them burning unattended and always use a suitable holder to ensure they don’t melt the surface they are on.
  • Christmas fairy lights should have the British Safety Standard mark and should be switched off when you go to bed.
  • Never overload electrical sockets. Use one plug per socket and switch off all electrical items which don’t need to be on continuously. Use the socket overload calculator on the electrical safety pages of our website to help.
  • When cooking your Christmas meal make sure you don’t leave it unattended and enjoy an alcoholic drink when the cooking is done.
  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home.
  • Plan and discuss your escape route with everyone in the house so they all know how to get out safely.
  • clothing on heaterIf the weather turns colder, take care when using heaters. Never place clothing over them and switch them off when they are no longer needed.