Put a smoke alarm at the top of your Christmas list, say firefighters

Firefighters from across Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) are urging people to make fitting and checking their smoke alarms a top priority this Christmas.

Statistics show that every day in December 20 people are killed or injured in accidental fires in the home in England. Last year in December there were around 2,700 accidental fires in the home in England – more than any other month of the year.

A short film showing just how quickly a fire involving fairy lights on a Christmas tree can take hold is featured on the AF&RS website. In less than a minute the room is filled with thick black smoke. To view the film click here

AF&RS Group Manager for Community Safety, Matt Peskett, said: “Fire safety is important all year round, but in December the extra distractions of Christmas make it even more imperative.

“We would like to remind people to make sure they have working smoke alarms fitted on every level of their home and to check the batteries are working regularly.

“With many people having guests to stay we would also like people to make sure they have an escape route and that everyone in the house knows how to get out if there is a fire.

“We know people are busy with lots of things to do but some simple fire safety measures could be the difference between life and death. A smoke alarm will activate at the first sign of fire and can give occupants vital extra minutes to escape the house, but only if it is working.

“Just two or three breaths of toxic smoke from a fire is enough to make you lose consciousness. We would also ask people to visit elderly relatives or neighbours and install or check their smoke alarms are working. We want everyone to have a happy and safe Christmas so we hope people will take our advice.”

Fire safety advice for the festive season

  • Ensure you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home and that you check the batteries are working regularly. Never remove the batteries.
  • Plan and practice your escape route, making sure everyone staying in the house knows how to get out if there is a fire.
  • Visit the home of an elderly relative or neighbour and check they have a working smoke alarm.
  • Never leave cooking unattended. More than half of fires attended by AF&RS start in the kitchen, so avoid cooking while under the influence of alcohol and always switch of kitchen appliances when not in use.
  • Never leave candles burning unattended. Keep them away from curtains and furnishings and ensure tealights are placed in the correct holders.
  • Take care when smoking and ensure all smoking materials are fully extinguished after use.
  • Always ensure all electrical items which don’t need to be left on are switched off after use, including fairy lights and mobile phone and laptop chargers. These can get very hot and start a fire.
  • If there is a fire, get out, stay out and dial 999.

The AF&RS website has safety advice specifically for the Christmas period. It also features a socket overload calculator which highlights how many appliances you can have plugged in together. To find out more click here