4 December 2023
Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is advising the public to prioritise fire safety and to not tackle fires. As we enter the high-risk time of year for accidental fires in the home, NIFRS is urging people to exit the property immediately and call 999.
The most common causes of accidental house fires during this time are cooking, electrical-related and smoking. Therefore, we must be vigilant over winter, especially during Christmas, as many additional fire dangers are introduced into our homes, such as open fires, portable heaters, candles and Christmas tree lights.
NIFRS Group Commander Paul Morrow said:
“This year we’re strongly appealing to people to never be tempted to tackle a fire in their home but rather close the door to the fire to get out, stay out, and call the Fire & Rescue Service out.I am asking the community to be aware of how to stay safe from fire during the winter months and festive period by following our safety advice.
“With temperatures dropping to freezing, you may turn to alternative methods of staying warm which can compromise your safety, such as lighting open fires or using portable heaters and electric blankets. Hire a suitably trained person to service your chimney, flue or appliance before you use it, and keep heaters away from soft furnishings and Christmas decorations.
“If you are hosting celebrations or simply cooking for a cosy night in, never leave cooking unattended or consume alcohol. Instead turn the cooker off and take the saucepans off the heat.
“Many of us are starting to put up Christmas decorations but be aware these bring fire hazards into our homes. Always remember to turn Christmas tree lights off, unplug sockets and blow out candles before bed and when you’re leaving the house.
“It is vitally important that you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms so you have the ability to notice a fire and escape quickly.
“Take time to check in with your older family, friends and neighbours to make sure they are doing all they can to stay safe from fire. If you feel that you, or someone you know, could benefit from a free Home Fire Safety Check please apply on our website at www.nifrs.org.
“As a Fire & Rescue Service we are here to support you so please put your safety first by following our winter advice and calling us to tackle fires.”
NIFRS Winter Safety Advice
- Ensure you have a working smoke alarm fitted to each floor in your property, and test it so you know it works.
- Make sure Christmas lights are in good working order – look for damaged or frayed leads, and check for safety marks such as the BS Kite mark to ensure the lights meet the appropriate standard. Turn off lights at night and when you are leaving the house.
- Don’t overload electrical plug sockets. Some indicators of overloaded sockets include scorch marks or blackness around the socket or plug, sparks coming from a plug or appliance, and the smell of hot plastic near the plug or socket.
- Never place candles near your Christmas tree or furnishings, and don’t leave them burning unattended.
- Keep candles, lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
- Decorations can burn easily – don’t attach them to lights or heaters.
- Don’t leave cooking unattended, and don’t cook if you are tired, have been drinking alcohol or have taken medication that could make you drowsy.
- Keep flammable items such as oven mitts, tea towels and cables away from the cooker top.
- Ensure your bedtime routine includes switching of electrics including Christmas lights, portable heaters, and any extra charging leads. Extinguish candles and cigarettes, and close doors to protect your escape route.
- Remember the risk of accidents is greater after alcohol is consumed.
- Make a fire escape plan and discuss with your household, and anyone staying with you over the festive period. Keep your escape route clear from Christmas trees, decorations and presents.
- Take the time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours this Christmas – make sure they are fire safe.