Don't let Christmas go up in smoke say fire service

THE FIRE service is warning residents of Crow Country not to let their Christmas go up in smoke.Last December 41 families in Hertfordshire had their Christmas ruined by an accidental fire in their homes. Don t let your family become another statistic thi

THE FIRE service is warning residents of Crow Country not to let their Christmas go up in smoke.

Last December 41 families in Hertfordshire had their Christmas ruined by an accidental fire in their homes. Don't let your family become another statistic this year.

Seven of the fires were in North Herts.

A fire can be devastating at any time of year, but Christmas can mean that there are extra fire hazards to consider. Defective fairy lights or candles, and flammable items, such as; Christmas cards, wrapping paper, crackers, decorations and even the Christmas tree are all potential fire hazards.

Smoke alarms save lives, so make checking the battery in your smoke alarm a priority; it could be responsible for you, your family, and your guests getting out in the event of a fire.

Stevenage and North Herts Group Commander Dave Harold, said: "Families all over North Herts will be celebrating in their homes this Christmas and we want to make sure that they do so safely. With additional fire hazards and lots of distractions a fire can start and quickly spread, so we are urging residents to keep fire safety in mind this Christmas.

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"We'd also like to remind people to test their smoke alarm, this week and every week. If a friend or family member doesn't have a smoke alarm, buy them one for Christmas - it could be the most important present you ever give."

Help to keep your family and Christmas presents safe from fire by following a few simple guidelines.

- Never place candles near your Christmas tree or materials that can catch light easily.

- Check your Christmas tree lights are in good condition and carry the British Safety Standard sign.

- Test the batteries in your smoke alarm every week. Never remove them.

- Make sure cigarettes are put out properly and make sure visitors to your home know where to dispose of any butts.

- Make sure your family and visitors know how to escape in an emergency.

- Most fires start in the kitchen. Avoid leaving a cooker unattended.

- Never overload electrical sockets. Always switch Christmas lights off and unplug them before you go to bed or when leaving the house unattended.

- Keep candles, lighters and matches out of children's reach. Never leave burning candles unattended.

- Decorations can burn easily - so don't attach them to lights or heaters.

- Store fireworks safely. Never go back to a lit firework and keep a bucket of water nearby.

- Take time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours this Christmas as they are at greater risk from fire.

- If you have a real Christmas tree; keep it watered and away from heat sources which can dry it out. A dried out tree is a serious fire hazard and you should get rid of it. This video shows an example of how quickly a dry tree can go up in flames and fill the room with fire and deadly gases.

Keith Emsall, Executive Member for Community Safety at Hertfordshire County Council, said: "Please take a few minutes to walk around your home to check for any potential fire hazards and then press the button on your smoke alarm to check it is working. You could prevent a fire starting in your home and make sure you have the best chance of escaping if one does start.

"It can be a very hectic time of year with lots to organise and think about, please make sure fire safety is at the top of your list of things to do this year. We hope all residents enjoy a happy Christmas, and remember that if a fire does start; get out, stay out and call 999," he concluded.

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