THE Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service is urging the community to stay safe this Christmas.
They say November until the end of February is statistically the time of year when the risk of accidental house fire fatalities increases.
In 2018/19 six people tragically lost their lives as a result of accidental house fires, and four of these fatalities occurred during the winter period (November-February).
Therefore Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is urging the community to be aware of their own fire safety, and the safety of others, during the winter months and festive period.
Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, said: “This year I am calling on the community to look out for each other throughout the winter months. During these colder months it’s more crucial than ever that people check in with their older family, friends and neighbours, and those who are isolated in our community.
“Please consider their wellbeing and ensure they have a working smoke alarm. Check their home for Christmas fire hazards, such as candles, Christmas tree lights, portable heaters, and overloaded sockets, and make sure they are being used safely, in order to stop fire in their home. Please refer them to us for free Home Fire Safety Check if necessary.
“Also, if you hear a neighbour’s smoke alarm going off, don’t ignore it – go and check. If there’s a fire, or if you can’t be sure, ring 999 and ask for NIFRS.
“We want you to enjoy yourself over the coming weeks by following our fire safety advice and ensuring you’re prepared for winter. By looking after your own safety, and the safety of those around you, you are not only helping to protect you and your loved ones from a range of fire and other emergencies, but you are also helping us as a Fire & Rescue Service. We are all ‘Safer Together.’
“Our Firefighters continue to be out on the ground engaging with at-risk people and we continue to work with our partners, from other voluntary and statutory organisations, to identify and reach those people who need our help most.
“We continue at this time of year to respond to a wide range of emergencies and are well-prepared and well-rehearsed in terms of our contingency planning for any severe weather conditions that we may encounter over the next couple of weeks.
“I am encouraging everyone to also think about their own personal preparedness for the challenges that winter weather can bring. Please take extra care while driving as winter weather, combined with the dark evenings and the Christmas rush, heightens the dangers on our roads.
“Happy Christmas and stay safe in 2020.”
Christmas Fire Safety Advice:
Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard. Don’t use lights with worn or frayed cables. Turn off lights at night or when you are leaving the house.
Never place candles near your Christmas tree or furnishings, and don’t leave them burning unattended.
Make sure your family and guests staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency. Make a fire escape plan.
Decorations can burn easily – don’t attach them to lights or heaters.
Never overload electrical sockets.
Celebrate Christmas and New Year safely. The risk of accidents is greater after alcohol is consumed.
Most fires start in the kitchen – never leave a cooker unattended.
Make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished before going to bed.
Test your smoke alarm every week, and make sure to replace the battery or the smoke alarm if it is not working.
Keep candles, lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
Take the time to check on elderly relatives, friends and neighbours this Christmas – make sure they are fire safe.
You can find winter weather preparedness tips and advice on: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/winter-help-and-advice
If you are worried about the fire safety of someone in your community you can find out more fire safety advice or register them for a free Home Fire Safety Check by visiting our website: www.nifrs.org