24 June 2022
As the summer holidays begin, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is urging everyone to follow some simple guidance to stay safe during the holiday period.
NIFRS Group Commander Suzanne Fleming said:
“Summer time can present a variety of challenges for NIFRS as more people spend time outdoors. We are asking the public to be careful and follow our safety advice to help prevent emergencies from occurring.
“The number of wildfires we attend can increase over the summer and many are started deliberately- please be vigilant over the coming months and report any suspicious behaviour to the police immediately. As well as wildfires, the amount of rescues we attend can also increase during the summer period. It is important that you do your research before setting off on a trip.
“We want everyone who is planning their summer activities to take our summer safety advice on board to keep themselves and their families safe. If you are caravanning or camping, enjoying a picnic with family or barbequing with friends please follow our tips to stay safe from fire.
“We also know that many people will want to enjoy the water outdoors. However it’s important to be aware of the many dangers of swimming in open water, whether that’s at the beach, a river or a lough.
“We want you all to remember this summer for all the right reasons and so please take necessary precautions to keep yourselves safe and protect the environment.”
NIFRS Summer Safety Advice
Barbecue and Fire Pit Safety
- Make sure your barbecue or fire pit 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 barbecue or fire pit- use firelighters or starter fuel on cold coals.
- Keep children, pets and garden games away from them.
- Never leave a barbecue or fire pit unattended.
- When barbecuing always concentrate on what you are doing; it’s easy to get distracted when you have family and friends around.
- After cooking, make sure your barbecue 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 Barbecues
- Make sure your barbecue 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 barbecue controls – this ensures any gas in the pipework will be exhausted.
- Fit a smoke alarm.
- Ensure furnishings, foam and insulation are fire retardant.
- Make a fire action plan and ensure everyone on board is aware of what to do if there is a fire.
- Fit a fire extinguisher in the engine compartment and the cockpit locker.
- Contain and vent battery boxes.
- Fit a carbon monoxide detector in living spaces.
- Consider getting a fire blanket for the kitchen area.
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 the Fire & Rescue Service.
- 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/Fire & Rescue Service.
- 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.
- 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.
- General advice is to always cook outside and well away from your tent, no matter how large. As well as the fire risk, cooking can also potentially produce carbon monoxide so cooking appliances should never be used in tents.
- 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 somebody else’s clothes catch fire, tell or force them to drop and try to smother the flames with a blanket or large item of clothing to quell the flames, then get them to roll.
- Find out what the Firefighting arrangements are in place for the campsite.
- If you do not have a mobile phone then find out where the nearest phone is located.
Caravan and Mobile Home Safety
- 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 the Fire & Rescue Service immediately.
- Make sure you can get out of a window if needed.
- Fit a smoke alarm and test it once a week.
- 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 6 metres away from your caravan or mobile home and away from heat.
- In the summer head to a lifeguarded beach, and swim between the red and yellow flags.
- Be aware that cold water can affect you physically and you can get ‘Cold Water Shock’.
- The water can also be deeper that you expect and often difficult to estimate the depth before you get in.
- There may be hidden currents.
- There may be hidden debris under the surface that you could get caught or tangled in.
- Before going into the water check to make sure that the conditions don’t exceed your ability. Swimming in open water is very different to swimming in a pool. Know your limits.
- When you enter, take a moment to acclimatise to the water temperature.
- Go with others and look out for each other. While you’re in make sure you have someone watching you and that they have a way to call for help.
- Wear a flotation device.
- Make sure your phone is charged so you can call for help if you come across anyone who needs it.
- If you see someone in difficulty in the water call for help, preferably a lifeguard if there is one nearby. Alternatively ring 999.
What to do if someone falls into deep water:
- Call 999 to inform the emergency services. If you don’t have a phone, shout for help – but do not enter the water.
- Encourage the person in the water to try and float on their back and if there is
rescue equipment nearby, throw it to them.
- Never enter the water to try and save someone. If you go into the water you are likely to suffer from cold water shock which will leave you unable to help, even if you are a strong swimmer.
What to do if YOU fall into deep water:
- If you fall into deep water, you should lie on your back and float.
- Fight the instinct to panic or swim- it’s better to just float.
- Lie back and keep your airways clear, push your stomach up and extend your limbs, moving hands and feet to help you float.
- Try to control the effects of cold water shock such as the gasping reflex. Once your breathing is controlled, call for help and, if possible, try making your way towards safety.
- 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.
- 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 NIFRS 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.