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Top tips on how not to burn your house down this Christmas

By citizenmike  |  Posted: December 23, 2013

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Smoke alarms fitted and working?

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With festive decorations, present wrapping and Christmas dinner to contend with, the county's fire chiefs say it’s easy to lose sight of safety.

But national statistics show that December is the worst month of the year for accidental fires in the home, with 20 people a day either killed or injured across the country.

Many people are unaware of the potential fire hazards and toxic threats that can lurk in fairy lights, candles and flammable Christmas decorations. With many people enjoying a Christmas drink and relaxing with family, it’s easy to get distracted, just when you need to be at your most vigilant.

Geoff Sallis, deputy chief fire officer, said: “Fire safety is important all year round, but in December there are added risks whether from unsafe decorations or simply being distracted when the celebrations begin.

“By following very simple advice, everyone can be assured of a peaceful and safe Christmas.”

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: “Christmas can be a busy time for many people, but it can be a busy time for fire crews as well. We want to make sure that local people do everything they can to stay safe and have a very happy Christmas.”

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service offers the following advice:

• Ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed on all levels of your home. Test your alarms weekly and never remove batteries to power presents.

• Never leave cooking unattended and avoid cooking after drinking alcohol. The majority of fires start in the kitchen. 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.

• 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 (This safety device can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault and can be found in any DIY store).

• Don’t overload sockets – 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.

• Check on older relatives and neighbours to ensure their safety.

• If you are going to light your fire, make sure you have the chimney swept.

• And finally, in the event of fire: get out, stay out and call 999.

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue is once again reassuring communities that a professional service will be maintained in the county during three national strikes over the next few days.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has called for its member to engage in industrial action on Christmas Eve (Tuesday) from 7pm-midnight, New Years Eve (Tuesday 31st) 6.30pm-12.30am and Friday 3rd January 6.30-8.30pm.

GFRS has contingency plans in place which mean that it will largely be business as usual, despite the strikes. However, local people and businesses should make sure they do everything they can to stay safe in their homes or workplace.

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