Welcome from the Chief
Plan for safety
Many of us made New Year’s resolutions at the start of the month – how many are still going strong? One resolution I’m hoping that residents across the region will adhere to is to protect their homes by taking on board some basic safety advice.
We had a number of serious and tragic fires during 2016 – so my plea to the public is for us to work together to make 2017 as safe as possible. During the year, we attended 421 accidental fires in the home – evidence that fires can happen easily, and cause untold damage and destruction as they develop.
The most important piece of advice I can give is to ensureyou have working smoke alarms installed - a working alarm can give you the vital time needed to escape in the event of a fire, and the early warning to allow firefighters to tackle it before it takes hold. We’ve seen many instances of smoke alarms alerting occupants over the last year, including an in incident in Sealand in July where a smoke alarm awoke and alerted a man to a tumble dryer fire in his home, and a cooking fire in Wrexham in September where smoke alarms alerted neighbours who called 999.
Smoke alarms offer vital protection for you and your loved ones, but most people simply fit and forget, and are not aware when the detector might be coming to the end of its lifespan. There’s nothing more important than keeping our family safe and secure – so it should be easy to find the motivation to make this a resolution that you will definitely want to keep.
Remember to maintain your alarms in good working order and test them by pushing the button regularly. Make sure there is at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home - fit smoke alarms on landings, hallways and in rooms which have an electrical appliance. Also, please take a moment to check on your less able loved ones, to ensure that they are also fully protected.
The main cause of fires in the home in 2016 was cooking – it’s important therefore that you never leave cooking unattended. Avoid cooking while under the influence of alcohol and always turn off kitchen appliances when finished with them. A man from Blaenau Ffestiniog had a lucky escape last March and had to receive hospital treatment after a cooker was accidentally switched on and ignited items. Fortunately he had working smoke alarms fitted and these alerted him to the fire.
Candles are a naked flame and so pose an obvious risk - so don’t leave them unattended. Keep them in a secure holder, out of the reach of children and away from flammable material such as curtains, lights and heaters.
If you’re a smoker, put your cigarette out - right out. Make sure cigarettes are fully extinguished and take care when drinking alcohol or tired. It's easy to fall asleep while a cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight. E-cigarettes also carry their own dangers - in August we attended a fire at a property in Nefyn caused by an e cigarette. All e-cigarettes use a rechargeable battery to power the vaporiser and these batteries require recharging on a regular basis. I would advise you only ever purchase these products from a reputable source and only use the battery and charger provided with the e-cigarette when charging. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidance, and turn off and unplug them before you go to bed. Never mix and match chargers – always use the charger supplied. Never leave items on charge or unattended for long periods as e-cigarettes are known to overheat when charging.
Many of the fires we attend in North Wales are electrical – to prevent such a fire you should avoid overloading sockets, and ensure you only use 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. In July, crews were called to a fire in Ruabon thought to be caused by an electrical fault in the dishwasher. Electricity is often overlooked as a fire hazard, perhaps because there is no flame but just because there is no flame, doesn't mean there's no risk – never underestimate the risk of fire from electricity.
I hope that you never experience a fire in your home - but it’s vital that everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire. Practice your escape route and get out, stay out and call 999.
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