Fire Minister Angela Smith has given a stark warning that people are 50% more likely to die in a house fire over the Christmas period than at other times of the year. She launched the Government's hard-hitting Christmas Fire Safety Campaign 'Tis the Season to be Careful that urges people to celebrate safely by reminding them of the risks and providing twelve tips for festive fire safety. Furthermore, official statistics also show that smoke alarm ownership amongst African & Caribbean communities is nearly eight percent lower than the national average. A chilling thought when you consider that you are twice as likely to die in a fire if you don't have a working smoke alarm.
Fire deaths are at their lowest level since the 1950s - deliberate fires are down by more than a third at 66,000 compared to the 2002 figure of 102,000 and serious fires over the same period have dropped by nearly a quarter (down to 139,000 from 183,000). But more still needs to be done - especially at times like Christmas when people are more vulnerable.
This Christmas campaign features a new public information TV-filler film that illustrates the hazards and reminds people to be extra careful at Christmas time. The campaign material features a family for whom a Christmas tree fire in their house was to have lifelong effects on their family.
In addition ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ fire safety messages will be promoted widely by the local fire and rescue services. These remind people to act safely with candles, decorations, cigarettes and electricity (outdoor lights), not to leave cooking unattended and to be extra careful if you have enjoyed a celebratory drink. And if a fire does develop: Get out, stay out, dial 999.
Angela Smith said:
"While I welcome the real progress being made to reduce deaths and injuries caused by fire we simply cannot afford to be complacent. That is why the Government put fire prevention at the heart of the work of the Fire and Rescue Service and gave Chief Fire Officers the flexibility to allocate their resources themselves according to local needs to protect those most at risk.
"I am delighted to launch our latest Christmas Fire Safety Campaign that will be delivered in partnership with the Fire and Rescue Service across the country. Figures show that while there has been a significant and sustained fall in the number of fire deaths the risks over the festive period are greater than normal. This hard-hitting campaign is a serious reminder that many of the things we enjoy about Christmas can all be fire hazards when proper care is not taken and provides twelve tips for festive fire safety."
Angela Smith also congratulated the Fire and Rescue Service for its role in driving down fire deaths. The Minister announced that she is inviting serving firefighters to an event in Parliament in the New Year to celebrate this success. This event will also serve as showcase for best practice in fire prevention work and enable firefighters to share their experiences of what works.
The Twelve Days of Christmas
This festive season campaign is urging people to stay safe and protect their homes against fire by following the ‘Fire Kills’ top twelve tips for festive fire safety:
• On the 1st day of Christmas - Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard. Always use an RCD on outdoor electrical equipment (safety device that can save lives by instantly switching off the power).
• On the 2nd day of Christmas - Never place candles near your Christmas tree or furnishings. Don't leave them burning unattended.
• On the 3rd day of Christmas - Make sure your family and visitors staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency. Practice a fire escape plan.
• On the 4th day of Christmas - Decorations can burn easily - don't attach them to lights or heaters.
• On the 5th day of Christmas – Switch off electrical appliances when not in use, unless they’re designed to stay on. Take special care with Christmas lights. Always switch off and unplug Christmas lights before you go to bed.
• On the 6th day of Christmas - Celebrate Christmas and New Year safely. The risk of accidents, especially in the kitchen, is greater after alcohol is consumed.
• On the 7th day of Christmas - Most fires start in the kitchen - never leave cooking unattended.
• On the 8th day of Christmas - If you are planning to celebrate with fireworks, store them in a metal box, read the instructions, never go back to a lit firework and keep a bucket of water nearby.
• On the 9th day of Christmas - Make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished.
• On the 10th day of Christmas - Check the battery in your smoke alarm every week and use Christmas as a reminder to clean it and remove dust.
• On the 11th day of Christmas - Keep candles, lighters and matches out of reach of children.
• On the 12th day of Christmas - Take the time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours this Christmas - make sure they are fire safe.
Further information about fire safety can also be found at www.firekills.gov.uk