Keep Warm, Keep Safe this winter, say firefighters

With the onset of wintery weather conditions and freezing temperatures, firefighters across Avon are urging people to ensure they keep warm and safe.

On top of Christmas celebrations the winter also brings many extra costs, such as heating and lighting. Add to this the difficult economic times and many people may struggle to heat their homes.

Between April 2009 and March 2010 Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) attended 125 chimney fires and 46 fires where faulty heating equipment was to blame. The winter months of November, December and January consistently prove to be busiest for AF&RS. Over the last four years the number of accidental house fires during these months is significantly above average.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service Station Manager Stuart Matthews said: “We want to make sure everyone in our community has the advice they need to stay safe and warm this winter, especially through this particularly cold snap.

“Using portable heaters, log fires and electric blankets in one room may seem like a relatively cheap option, but it could end up costing you dear if a fire breaks out.

“The most important advice is to ensure you have working smoke alarms in your home which could give you vital extra minutes to get out of the property in the event of a fire. Make sure you test the batteries every week to ensure the device is working properly.”

This year AF&RS has been working with local councils on the Keep Warm, Keep Safe campaign to provide people with advice on heating their homes efficiently and safely.

To raise awareness of the Keep Warm, Keep Safe campaign firefighters will be handing out advice on everything from preventing chimney fires to checking your electric blanket regularly.

Free energy advice and information on council energy grants is available by calling 0800 512 012.

Tips to Keep Warm, Keep Safe:

  • Make sure furnishings are kept well away from all heaters and fires
  • Use a fire guard on open fires
  • Have your chimney swept regularly to avoid a build up of soot, which could catch fire
  • If you use an electric blanket which is more than three years old, make sure it is tested every year
  • Unplug all electrical appliances which don’t need to be on continuously before going to bed at night

If you have any concerns about fire in the home please contact Avon Fire & Rescue Service on 0117 9262061.