|KFRS has provided tips to protect homes for festive fire safety
Kent Fire and Rescue Service urges all residents to stay safe this Christmas, and ensure that the celebrations don't end in tragedy.
Latest figures from the Fire Kills campaign show a rise in the number of accidental fire deaths and injuries over the festive period. In 2008 there were 33,000 accidental house fires, 10% of which occurred in the run up to Christmas Day.
People often get distracted by the hustle and bustle of Christmas and are unaware of the potential fire hazards. Dangers include unattended cooking, increased drinking of alcohol and careless disposal of cigarettes, as well as overloading of electric sockets with decorative lights, candles and flammable decorations.
Head of Community Safety Stuart Skilton said: "Christmas should be a time of fun and festivities rather than tragedy, but it's all too easy to overlook your usual fire safety efforts. People vastly underestimate the deadly strength of toxic smoke and overestimate how long they have to escape should a fire break out. The reality is that just two to three breaths of smoke in a fire can render a person unconscious.
"I would urge people to be aware of the increased fire risk at this time of year and to have fire safety in the forefront of planning and celebrating so a good time is enjoyed by all without any nasty surprises or devastation from fire - plan escape routes, install smoke alarms, test them weekly and follow our festive safety tips to keep your family and home safer from the increased risk of fire."
Protect your homes from fire by following twelve tips for festive fire safety:
- Ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed on all levels of your home. Test your smoke alarms weekly and never remove batteries to power presents!
- Never leave cooking unattended - stand by your pan - and avoid cooking whilst drunk.The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area.Always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.
- Never leave candles unattended. Keep decorations, cards and wrapping paper away from candles, fires, lights and heaters.
Dangers include overloading of electric sockets with decorative lights, candles and flammable decorations
- Ensure you switch off fairy lights and unplug them before you go to bed, or leave the house. Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598).
- Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment (a safety device that can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault).
- Don't overload sockets - ensure only one plug per socket.Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.
- Make sure cigarettes are extinguished properly and never smoke in bed.Put it out, right out.
- Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
- Plan and practice your fire escape route and make sure your family and visitors staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency.
- Check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas, as they are at greater risk from fire.
- Book up a free home fire safety visit with Kent Fire and Rescue Service. The free checks take about 30 minutes to carry out and firefighters will visit your home to identify potential fire hazards and fit if required free 10-year smoke alarms. They will give home fire safety advice and help you make an escape plan should fire break out in your home.
- And finally, in the event of fire: get out, stay out and call 999.