Protect your family from fire this Diwali

Firefighters are providing Hindu and Sikh families across the Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) area advice on staying safe as they celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights.

The celebration sees families light candles and Diyas (small earthenware oil lamps) in homes and public places, signifying the driving away of darkness and ignorance. It is a time for family gatherings, food and celebrations.

The main Diwali celebration, which this year takes place on Wednesday 26 October, is traditionally a time when candles and Diyas are left burning overnight.

Between April 2010 and March 2011 Avon Fire & Rescue Service attended 21 fires which were started by candles or tealights.

Adrian Mantle, AF&RS Community Safety Officer, said: “We all use candles during the winter months, but if used incorrectly they can lead to fire breaking out, destroying belongings and endangering lives.

“Candles should always be properly extinguished after use as they can get very hot. They should never be placed near to curtains or furnishings and should be used with a suitable holder which will not melt from the heat.”

“You should take particular care with tealights as the metal containers get hot enough to burn or set fire to the surface they are on. They should always be used with a suitable holder.

“We want people to enjoy their Diwali celebrations safely and are spreading the word by working alongside Hindu and Sikh temples and visiting community groups to give advice on staying safe.”

The campaign is being supported by a short film about candle safety produced by AF&RS. The film tells the story of a Bristol resident who suffered a fire in her home during Diwali celebrations. It is available at You Tube on the AvonFireService channel.

Advice on staying safe during Diwali:

  • Make sure you have a smoke detector on every storey of your home and check the batteries.
  • Keep clothes and hair away from naked flames – make sure your clothes don’t drape over hobs and candles.
  • Always use a suitable container for your candles – tealights and nightlights will melt their foil containers and scented candles turn to liquid as they release the fragrance.
  • Never leave candles burning unattended and keep them well away from furnishings and clothing.