Other Safety and Seasonal Safety Advice
We are committed to keeping everyone safe from fire and other emergency incidents. Below you can find safety advice to help you prevent these incidents from occurring.
Whether you are in the garden or out camping, follow these tips to barbeque safety and avoid injuries or damage to property from fire-
- Make sure your barbeque site is flat and away from fences, trees, shrubs and sheds.
- Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby in case of emergencies.
- Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbeque – use firelighters or starter fuel on cold coals.
- Keep children, pets and garden games away from the cooking area.
- Never leave a barbeque unattended.
- Concentrate on what you are doing; it’s easy to get distracted when you have family and friends around.
- After cooking, make sure the barbeque is cool before moving it.
- Make sure ashes are cold before disposal.
- Remember, alcohol consumption increases the risk of accidents occurring.
Additional Tips for Gas Barbeques-
- Make sure your barbeque is in good working order.
- Make sure the gas tap is turned off before changing the cylinder and always disconnect the cylinder in open air.
- When you have finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before you turn off the barbeque controls – this ensures any gas in the pipework will be exhausted.
The impact of a fire can become even more serious when escape is either difficult or leads to a place of other danger, for example when fires occur on boats. Reduce the risk from fire by following these simple tips-
- Fit a smoke alarm. Test it each time you board. Optical sensor alarms are best for boats.
- Fit an appropriate fire extinguisher in the engine compartment and the cockpit locker.
- Fit a Carbon Monoxide alarm to BS EN 50291.
- Ensure furnishings, foam and insulation are fire retardant.
- Make a fire action plan and ensure your crew are aware of what to do if there is a fire.
- Contain and vent battery boxes.
If a fire occurs on the marina-
- If safe to do so, isolate gas and fuel supplies.
- Evacuate the craft and ensure all the crew are wearing lifejackets.
- Call NIFRS on 999.
- Stay out.
- Warn neighbouring craft.
If a fire occurs at sea-
- Only tackle a fire if it is safe to do so.
- Contact the Coastguard/NIFRS on 999.
- Identify position or give landmarks.
- Ensure all crew are wearing lifejackets.
- Prepare emergency grab bag (flares, VHF radio, compass) and life raft.
- If safe to do so, isolate gas and fuel supplies.
- Do not open the engine panel.
- Only as a last resort abandon ship.
The following safety advice, provided by NIFRS, should be applied for anyone building or attending bonfires-
- Site the bonfire well away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and shrub.
- As a guide allow a ratio of 1:5, i.e. the distance from the bonfire to the nearest property should be 5 times the height of the bonfire.
- Build the stack so that it is stable and will not collapse.
- Never build a hut or den inside the bonfire.
- Do not burn foam filled furniture, tyres, aerosols, tins of paint or bottles.
- Responsible adults should look after lighting the bonfire. Before lighting the fire check that no children or pets are hiding inside it.
- Never use flammable liquids (petrol or paraffin) to light the fire – use domestic firelighters.
- Keep everyone away from the fire – especially children who must be supervised at all times.
- For an emergency keep buckets of water, a garden hose or a fire extinguisher ready.
- At any sign of danger, or in the event of an emergency, ring Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service on 999 for assistance.
We have a duty to ensure the safety of our personnel around bonfires and will therefore visit bonfire sites to maintain good relations with the local community and gain operational intelligence.
If we are called to a bonfire it’s because somebody in that area is worried or concerned about the bonfire and we will respond. We are not out to spoil anyone’s enjoyment but are there to protect life and property.
We also appeal directly to young people to never build huts or dens inside a bonfire, as by doing so they are putting their life in danger.
Whether you are heading off to a music festival or are spending a weekend outdoors, stick to these simple guidelines and keep your camping trip safe-
- Tents should ideally be pitched at least 6 metres apart from other tents.
- Keep a torch handy. Never light a candle or have any kind of flame burning apparatus in or near to a tent.
- Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
- Always cook outside and well away from your tent, no matter how large. Cooking appliances should never be used in small tents. Make sure cooking appliances are stable and cannot be knocked over easily.
- Don’t cook near flammable materials or long grass.
- Store flammable liquids or gas cylinders away from the tent.
- Never smoke inside a tent.
- A fire can destroy a tent in 60 seconds so it is essential you have an escape plan and be prepared to cut your way out of the tent if there is fire.
- Make sure everyone knows what to do if their clothes catch fire – stop, drop to the floor and roll to put out the flames.
- If you do not have a mobile phone then find out where the nearest phone is located.
- Know the fire safety arrangements for the campsite.
Many of the same rules about fire safety in the home also apply to caravans and mobile homes.
- Park caravans and mobile homes at least 6 metres apart.
- Make a fire escape plan.
- If there’s a fire – get out, stay out and call NIFRS immediately.
- Make sure you can get out of a window if needed.
- Fit a smoke alarm and test it once a week.
- You should consider getting a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket, and know how to use them properly.
- Do not dry clothes on or right next to a heater.
- Make sure heaters are working properly – use a Gas Safe engineer to fix gas heaters.
- Turn gas off when not in use.
- Fit a Carbon Monoxide detector and keep air vents clear.
- Don’t overload sockets; an adapter with a lead is safer.
- Smoking inside can be dangerous, so smoke outside.
- Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
- Never leave cooking unattended.
- Take extra care when cooking with hot fats and oils.
- Never put water on burning oil or fat.
- When not in use, fuel should be stored ideally six metres away from your caravan or mobile home and away from heat.
- Make sure everyone knows the caravan site’s fire safety arrangements.
Tips for having a safe and happy festive season-
- Check your Christmas lights are in good working order. Look for the BS Kite mark to ensure that your lights meet the appropriate standard.
- Never overload sockets and always turn Christmas lights off before going to bed or if you are leaving the house. Remember one plug per socket.
- Have a working smoke alarm fitted on all levels of your property. A working smoke alarm will give you and those you live with the vital time needed to escape a fire.
- Never leave cooking unattended and avoid cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol. Make sure cooking appliances are turned off after use.
- Check your Christmas lights are in good working order and conform to the British Standard. Look for the BS Kitemark to ensure that your lights meet the appropriate standard.
- Don’t buy fake electrical goods. Look for the British Standard or CE mark to ensure equipment and chargers comply with UK or European Safety Standards.
- If you are using extra heaters during the winter months, make sure they are kept away from soft furnishings and Christmas decorations.
- Keep candles away from soft furnishings, decorations, Christmas trees and wrapping paper. Ensure they are out of reach from pets and children. Never leave candles unattended.
- Make sure cigarettes are extinguished correctly and never smoke in bed, particularly if you have been drinking alcohol. Empty ashtrays safely.
- Make a fire escape plan and discuss it with your family. Ensure any visiting family and friends are aware of the escape plan too; tell them where you keep door keys.
- Keep your escape routes clear; it’s easy for exits to get blocked with Christmas trees and presents.
- Check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas to ensure their safety.
Every year, we are called to deal with large numbers of wildfires across Northern Ireland which are a serious risk to lives, property and the environment. We want everyone to enjoy the countryside and recommend the following fire safety tips to help prevent wildfires-
- Extinguish your cigarette and other smoking materials properly and don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows– take your litter home.
- Avoid using open fires in the countryside, it may seem a good idea but an open fire can easily get out of control.
- Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodland or grassland – sunlight shining through glass can start fires. Take them home or dispose in a waste or recycling bin.
- Keep children away from lighters, matches and open fires.
- Only use barbeques in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended.
- Ensure barbeques are fully extinguished and cold before disposing of their contents.
- Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be extinguished with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible.
- If you see a fire in the countryside report it to the Fire & Rescue Service immediately on 999.
- If you see someone setting fires, report it to the PSNI.
- Keep fires as small as possible to prevent them getting out of control.
- Whilst there are benefits to controlled burning, NIFRS would remind land managers that it should only be used when all other methods of land management have been exhausted. This is due to the associated hazards and potential risk of starting a wildfire.
Falls are the number one reason older people are taken to the emergency department in a hospital. Most falls don’t cause serious injury but they can leave you distressed. There are ways you can reduce your risk of having a fall, including making simple changes to your home and doing exercises to improve your strength and balance.
Avoiding falls at home-
- Clean up spillages.
- Remove clutter, trailing wires and frayed carpets.
- Use non-slip mats, especially in the bathroom.
- Have good lighting around the home so you can see clearly.
- Organise your home so that climbing, stretching and bending is kept to a minimum.
- Wear slippers and shoes with a good grip.
- Be careful of loose-fitting or trailing clothes that may catch or trip you up and cause a fall.
- Ensure the side effects of your medication do not increase your chances of having a fall.
- Have a yearly review of your medications with your GP or Practice Nurse if you are taking four or more medicines a day.
- Eyesight deteriorates with age which can increase the chances of a fall. Make an appointment to have your eyes tested.
- Drinking alcohol can lead to loss of co-ordination and exaggerate the effects of some medicines, which can increase the risk of falls. Avoiding alcohol or reducing the amount you drink can reduce your risk of falling.
- Doing regular activity such as walking or dancing can improve your strength and balance which, in turn, can reduce your risk of having a fall.
All fireworks intended to be sold to the public must be ‘CE’ marked showing that they meet EU requirements, and are clearly marked for their intended use – Indoor, Garden or Display-
- Keep fireworks in a sealed box or tin.
- Only use them one at a time, replacing the lid immediately.
- Read the instructions carefully, using a torch or hand lamp; never use a naked flame.
- Light fireworks at arm’s length using a taper or a firework lighter.
- Stand well back and never return to a firework after it has been lit as it could explode in your face.
- Never put fireworks in your pocket.
- Always supervise children around fireworks.
- Never throw fireworks.
- Keep all pets and animals indoors.
- Don’t set off noisy fireworks late at night and never after 11pm.
Sparklers are often viewed as being harmless but they do burn at fierce temperatures. To a young child, the heat from a sparkler is equivalent to the heat from a welding torch-
- Never give sparklers to children under five years old.
- Always wear gloves with sparklers, preferably leather ones.
- Ensure children hold sparklers at arm’s length and an adult lights it for them.
- Never wave sparklers near someone else as you could burn them.
- When the sparkler has finished, put it into a bucket of cold water straight away and leave it there.
The added distractions at Halloween come with an increase in the likelihood of accidents. These simple tips can make Halloween a safe night for everyone-
- Remind children to be extra careful when crossing any roads.
- Choose a costume and mask that doesn’t restrict a child’s visibility.
- Provide children with a torch or glow stick as part of their costume.
- Avoid using a naked flame or candle in pumpkins; use a torch or battery-operated candle.
- Tell children to stay away from any naked flames. Be sure they know how to ‘Stop, Drop and Roll’ if their clothing catches fire.
If your child is wearing a fancy dress costume this Halloween-
- Avoid using a naked flame or candle in pumpkins; use a torch, glow stick or battery operated candle.
- Keep children away from any naked flames, including sparklers.
- Be sure they know how to ‘Stop, Drop and Roll’ if their clothing catches fire.
- Choose a costume and mask that doesn’t restrict a child’s visibility.
- Wear woollen tights or ‘heavy’ trousers, e.g., jeans, and a woollen jumper under the costume.
- Ensure your children are supervised at all times.
Fire safety standards and fire evacuation procedures may be significantly different in other countries compared to the standards that you may be familiar with in Northern Ireland. When you arrive at your hotel or accommodation, you should plan how you and those you are with would evacuate if you discover a fire or if the fire alarm were to sound. You should familiarise yourself with the following-
- The fire instruction notice in your hotel room – usually located on the back of the door.
- Consider how you would leave the building by locating the nearest exit.
- Identify alternative exits to use if your nearest exit were to be blocked by fire.
- Walk the escape routes (including stairwells) from your room to familiarise yourself with them, ensure that they are clear and that they lead to a safe place outside the building.
- Familiarise yourself with how to raise the alarm should you observe any symptoms of fire. This will normally be via actuation of a break glass point Many break glass points in other countries require you to push/pull a switch to activate the alarm after you have broken the glass in the call point.
- Rendezvous points – ensure all your family/party knows where to meet following an evacuation of your building.
When the weather is warm, you may want to cool down in the water outdoors, but there are many hidden dangers that make some waterways unsafe for swimming.
- Remember there is no supervision by lifeguards if you get into trouble
- The water is often a lot colder than you expect and it can impact on you physically. Just because you can swim well in a warm swimming pool doesn’t mean you’ll be able to swim well in cold water.
- It can be deep and it is often very difficult to estimate the depth before you get in.
- You can jump in but will you be able to get out? Often people can’t find a suitable place to get out.
- There is no way of knowing what lies beneath the surface. There could be shopping trolleys, open tin cans and broken bottles.
- If it’s polluted it could make you ill.
- There may be hidden currents.
- Never drink alcohol during or just before swimming, or while carrying out other activities such as boating or water skiing.
- If you are going to go swimming, make sure that somebody is nearby so you can shout for help if you get into difficulties.
Swimming at the Beach
- Children should always go to the beach with an adult. An adult can point out dangers and help if someone gets into difficulty.
- When you are swimming at the beach, be aware of which flag is flying as this will warn you of any dangers-
- a red and yellow flag means lifeguards are on patrol
- A red flag means it is dangerous to bathe or swim, so don’t go into the water
- A quartered black and white flag means that the area has been zoned for use of surf boards and kayaks and is not safe for swimmers and bathers.
- If you see someone in difficulty in the water, tell somebody, preferably a lifeguard if there is one nearby. Alternatively use the nearest phone or your mobile and dial 999.