*Over 100 chimney fires spark safety advice*
Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service is warning people about the dangers of open fires following 141 chimney fires in the county so far this year.
Firefighters attended 96 chimney fires alone between 1 January and 31 March 2011, and since 1 November this year, there have been 22 chimney fires.
The service is advising people to have their chimney swept, make sure embers are under control and properly put out before they go to bed and use a British Standard fire guard to prevent sparks escaping.
With many people turning up the heating to keep warm during the colder weather this winter, the service is also providing additional safety advice to protect people from the threat of fire in their home:
- Never air or dry clothing near open fires or portable heaters.
- Do not leave candles unattended, make sure they are in a proper holder and remember to extinguish them before you leave a room or go to bed.
- Never use hot water bottles in the same bed as an electric blanket, even if the blanket is switched off.
- Unplug electric blankets before you get into bed, unless they have a thermostat control for safe all night use and check regularly for wear and tear.
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and test it weekly.
- Have a fire escape plan.
- Don’t get distracted when you are cooking - turn off or turn down the heat if you have to leave the cooking unattended, for example to take a phone call or answer the door.
- Don't leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended - they can easily overbalance as they burn down, land on a carpet or newspaper and start a fire. When you put it out, make sure it really is out.
Stuart Garner, Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service Risk Reduction Manager said:
“People should be extra cautious over the winter months as cold weather can increase the risk of fire within the home,
“I would strongly recommend that you have your chimney swept regularly and only burn suitable fuel. Do not over load your fireplace and make sure your fire is out before you leave the house or go to bed. When using a portable heater remember to unplug them before you go out or go to bed and keep away from curtains, furniture and other flammable materials.”If you would like to find out how fire safe you are this winter, complete our online Home Fire Risk on our 365 Alive website.You can also visit the website for more tips and advice for Winter Fire Safety and Christmas Safety