Stay Safe this Christmas – Get switched on to safety!Posted
With Christmas lights being switched on across the region and many people planning to start hanging their Christmas decorations this weekend, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is joining forces with Christmas lights enthusiast Gareth Edwards from Rhyduchaf, Bala to urge residents to follow some simple tips to stay safe over the festive season.
Statistics show that electrical fires increase substantially during the Christmas period, after the majority of people put up their Christmas lights at the start of December – over the last three years, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service attended 38 incidents during December compared to an average of 20 per month for the other 11 months. Fires involving wiring, cabling or plugs also rose during December, rising to 16 from an average of 9 for the other months.
To help tackle the issue of electrical fires, and to encourage residents to use their lights and electrical items safely, this year North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has joined forces with Gareth Edwards from Rhyduchaf, Bala, who has been welcoming visitors from far and wide to his home for 25 years to enjoy his spectacular lights display.
Gareth, an electrician, said: “We’ve been welcoming people here since 1990, and it’s brilliant to see how much enjoyment the lights can bring.
“Christmas lights and decorations can be really fun – but as an electrician I’m aware how dangerous electrical items can be if they’re not used properly. It’s so important that people don’t overload their electrics or leave their lights on when going out or heading up to bed – the last thing anyone wants is a fire over the Christmas period.
“I heard about the fire and rescue service’s campaign and it’s great to work with them to get these important messages across.”
Stuart Millington, Senior Fire Safety Manager for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Gareth’s Christmas lights display is certainly amazing and his advice is sound – I know that residents across the region enjoy preparing their own displays and I’d ask them to do so safely, by not overloading sockets and plugs and using correctly fused multi gang safety leads.
“Many people will have a variety of electrical devices on their Christmas lists this year –be conscious of overloading, don’t charge items overnight and use chargers from a reputable source rather than cheap aftermarket chargers.
“The build up to Christmas and New Year can be a time to relax and enjoy being with family and friends - but extra vigilance is vital to prevent a fire that could easily devastate the family home with the loss of presents and valuables, seriously injuring or even worse killing you or a loved one."
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to stay safe and protect their homes from fire by following twelve tips for festive fire safety:
1. 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).
2. Never place candles near your Christmas tree or furnishings. Don't leave them burning unattended.
3. Make sure your family and visitors staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency. Practice a fire escape plan.
4. Decorations can burn easily - Don't attach them to lights or heaters.
5. Switch off electrical appliances when not in use, unless they're designed to stay on.
6. Take special care with Christmas lights. Always switch off and unplug Christmas lights before you go to bed. Christmas is a time when we use more electrical items such as lights and decorations as well games etc - don't overload sockets and plugs but use correctly fused multi gang safety leads. Please see the amp calculator on www.nwales-fireserfireservice / keeping you safe / looking after the electrics or follow this link /looking-after-the-electrics.aspx?lang=en
7. Most fires start in the kitchen - never leave cooking unattended. Celebrate Christmas and New Year safely. The risk of accidents, especially in the kitchen, is greater after alcohol is consumed.
8. 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.
9. Make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished.
10. Check the battery in your smoke alarm every week and use Christmas as a reminder to clean it and remove dust.
11. Keep candles, lighters and matches out of reach of children.
12. Take the time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours this Christmas - make sure they are fire safe as well as checking on their well-being.
Stuart added: "Everyone likes to enjoy themselves over the holiday period, and we're just asking them to keep safety in mind while celebrating. I'd also like to remind residents about the dangers of cooking after drinking alcohol - cooking and drinking just don't mix.
"We all need to consider the possible consequences of our actions and think safe to stay safe.
“We offer free home safety checks for all residents in the region - a member of the Service will visit your home, give safety hints and tips, help you to formulate a fire escape plan and fit new alarms - all free of charge.
“I’d ask everyone to consider elderly or vulnerable family or neighbours, and ensure they get their home checked too. The early warning provided by a smoke alarm can provide vital minutes to help them escape unharmed.”
To register for a free home safety check, please call the bilingual 24 hour free hotline on 0800 169 1234 or visit www.freesmokealarm.co.uk