Fire chiefs issue festive warning

A warning on the fire hazards posed by Christmas decorations was today issued as the festive season gets underway.

SUFFOLK: A warning on the fire hazards posed by Christmas decorations was today issued as the festive season gets underway.

Fire chiefs are keen to stress the potential dangers of fairy lights, candles and flammable decorations.

The warning comes after figures revealed a rise in the number of accidental fire deaths and injuries over the Christmas period.

Statistics from the Fire Kills campaign showed that in 2008 there were 33,000 accidental house fires in the county with ten per cent occurring around Christmas.

Sir Ken Knight, chief fire and rescue advisor, said: “The risk of fire in the home is an all year round issue.

“However, people are particularly vulnerable at Christmas for many reasons ranging from unsafe electrical decorations, unattended candles, through to cooking while drunk.

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“People also vastly underestimate the deadly strength of toxic smoke and overestimate how long they have to escape should a fire break out.

“The reality is that just two to three breaths of smoke in a fire can render a person unconscious.”

The Fire Service will also be running a 'Don't Drown in Toxic Smoke' after Christmas to show how quickly toxic smoke effects the human body.

Have you been sold unsafe electrical items? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

The fire service have released ten top tips to help people stay safe over Christmas. They are:

1. Ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed and test it weekly.

2. Never leave cooking unattended and avoid cooking while drunk.

3. Never leave candles unattended and keep them away from cards, presents and wrapping paper.

4. Remember to turn off fairy lights and unplug them before leaving the house.

5. Always use an RCD (Residual Current Device) on outdoor electrical equipment.

6. Don't overload sockets - ensure one plug per socket.

7. Make sure cigarettes are extinguished properly and never smoke in bed.

8. Check on older relatives as they are at greater risk over Christmas.

9. Ask the experts - Fire and Rescue Services - for free home fire risk checks.

10. In the event of a fire: get out, stay out and call 999.

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