Welcome from the Chief
Switch on to home safety this Christmas
Christmas and New Year is a time to relax and enjoy being at home with family and friends - but it’s also a time when extra vigilance is vital to prevent against a fire.
Our experience as a fire and rescue service is that we can be called out to almost three times as many house fires over the festive period.
Everyone likes to enjoy themselves over the holidays – but we're just asking people to keep safety in mind while celebrating.
A fire in the home would not only ruin family festivities – it could easily devastate your property, result in the loss of Christmas gifts and valuables, and even worse, cause serious injury or threaten the lives of you and your loved ones.
It’s so important that people don’t overload their electrics or leave their lights on when going out or heading to bed – the last thing anyone wants is that you have to call for our services and assistance over Christmas.
Like many, you probably have a variety of electrical devices on your Christmas list this year – but please be conscious of overloading. Don’t charge items overnight and use chargers from a reputable source rather than cheap aftermarket chargers.
Just last month a fire involving a mobile phone at a property in Morfa Bychan demonstrated how quickly fires can spread. The cause of the fire was established as an overheated battery in a mobile phone, which resulted in the bedroom being completely destroyed by fire and smoke and severe smoke damage to the rest of the first floor. There was also smoke damage to the ground floor of the property.
We all need to consider the possible consequences of our actions. Celebrate safely and be mindful of the dangers of cooking whilst having a drink – time and time again we witness how alcohol and cooking simply do not mix safely.
Visit our Facebook page www.facebook.com/northwalesfireservice to take part in our Christmas competition and help us spread the word on festive safety.
Here are my twelve tips for festive fire safety:
1. Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard. Always use an RCD on outdoor electrical equipment (safety device that can save lives by instantly switching off the power).
2. Never place candles near your Christmas tree or furnishings. Don't leave them burning unattended.
3. Make sure your family and visitors staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency. Practice a fire escape plan.
4. Decorations can burn easily - Don't attach them to lights or heaters.
5. Switch off electrical appliances when not in use, unless they're designed to stay on.
6. Take special care with Christmas lights. Always switch off and unplug Christmas lights before you go to bed. Christmas is a time when we use more electrical items such as lights and decorations as well games etc - don't overload sockets and plugs but use correctly fused multi gang safety leads. Please see the amp calculator here.
7. Most fires start in the kitchen - never leave cooking unattended. Celebrate Christmas and New Year safely. The risk of accidents, especially in the kitchen, is greater after alcohol is consumed.
8. If you are planning to celebrate with fireworks, store them in a metal box, read the instructions, never go back to a lit firework and keep a bucket of water nearby.
9. Make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished.
10. Check the battery in your smoke alarm every week and use Christmas as a reminder to clean it and remove dust.
11. Keep candles, lighters and matches out of reach of children.
12. Take the time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours this Christmas - make sure they are fire safe as well as checking on their well-being.
A working smoke alarm – the gift of life
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a safe Christmas and New Year.
Although the festive period is a time for celebration, we know that the number of incidents we attend over Christmas rises significantly.
On top of this, the latest figures show that many residents in Wales still do not have a smoke alarm – in fact, in three out of ten dwelling fires that occur in Wales, there is no smoke alarm installed.
It’s easy to see that these two statistics combined are a potential recipe for disaster.
Our firefighters have seen first-hand how a working smoke alarm could save you in the event of a fire – it could really mean the difference between life and death.
In our experience, people who lose their lives in house fires are often sleeping at the time. A smoke alarm will wake you up and give you that vital extra time to make your escape and to call for help.
So, why not make a pledge this Christmas to ensure you have working smoke alarms fitted - and then set yourself a New Year resolution to remind yourself to test them regularly.
Please don’t forget to look after your vulnerable friends and relatives by ensuring they have working alarms too.
There really is no excuse for not having a smoke alarm – you can book a Home Safety Check from your local fire and rescue service to get advice, which may include the fitting of a new alarm for free. Just call us on 0800 069 1234.