Fire service offers public safety tips
SFRS tells how to stay safe during the winter
Families in Strathearn are being urged to stay safe over the festive period, as figures show there were more than 500 accidental house fires in Scotland last Christmas.
According to the Scottish Fire and Rescue (SFRS) there were 517 accidental house fires between December 7 2016 and January 11 2017, an increase of 230 on the previous year.
The SFRS say this is due partly to an increased use of heating and electrical appliances, and to people drinking more alcohol.
David McGown, director of prevention and protection at the fire service, said: “This winter SFRS will work closely with local communities and partner agencies to keep Scotland safe from fire and other emergencies - but as always, we need the public’s help to reduce the amount of preventable fires we might see in the coming months.
“I would directly appeal to people to check if their elderly relatives, neighbours or friends are in need of our support and to contact us directly.
“Home community fire safety visits are a key pillar of our prevention work that help safeguard the public - especially vulnerable residents but also families and the wider community.
“These are free pre- arranged visits where SFRS staff identity signs to protect people and their homes.
“SFRS staff can also identify hazards in the home, help plan escape routes and supply and install smoke detectors for free - a vital tool for every home.”
Mr McGown continued: “Every year across Scotland, there is a rise in emergency calls to SFRS due to winter weather.
“We urge the public to take action now and be prepared for whatever hazards might come in the next few months.
“Winter weather also brings unexpected and dangerous conditions to our roads. It’s important to ensure that your vehicle is serviced, well maintained and that drivers take the necessary precautions when driving in bad weather.”
Steps local residents can take to minimise the risk of a fire starting in the home include:
● Unplug fairy lights or other electrical Christmas decorations and blow out candles when you leave the house or go to bed.
● Never leave an electric blanket switched on when you’re in bed unless it’s marked ‘suitable for all night use’.
● Keep lit candles away from children and pets, and from curtains or other flammable materials.
● Doors slow down the spread of potentially deadly smoke and flames, so it is important to remember to close them at night.
● Check the plugs and flexes of your electrical equipments regularly for damage. If you’re in any doubt, don’t use them until repaired by a qualified electrician.
● Keep portable heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes. Switch them off before you go to bed.
● Leaving cookers unattended or being distracted while cooking is the most frequent cause of fire in the home. Never cook hot food while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
● Most fatal fires are caused by smoker’s materials. Don’t smoke in your chair or if you’ve been drinking or you’re feeling tired. If you do feel tired smoke outside or stand up and smoke at a window or outside door.
● It is essential that your home has a working smoke alarm on each level of the property. If a fire starts, this will give you and your family time to get to safety. Check your smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms are working weekly and replace batteries if necessary.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service offers everyone in Scotland a free home fire safety visit and can also fit smoke alarms free of charge if your home requires them.
For a free home fire safety visit, call 0800 0731 999.