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Fire Service issues winter safety advice 1 December 2008

Be careful with open firesTHE Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service is urging local residents to stay warm but safe as the colder weather takes hold.

With temperatures dipping below freezing in recent days, community fire safety officers have issued advice aimed at reducing the risk of household incidents. Open fires, heaters, electric blankets and candles can pose potential fire hazards if they are not used in the correct manner. Elderly people can be particularly vulnerable, so relatives and neighbours are encouraged to make regular visits to ensure fire safety measures are in place.

Station Officer Carl Kinvig said:

‘During the winter months it’s inevitable that people will spend more time indoors out of the cold. Residents may use additional measures to keep warm such as portable heaters and electric blankets, but these items also bring an increased risk of fire into the home. By following some simple rules people can ensure they stay safe and warm. The Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service is here to help and offer advice. If you are in any doubt over fire safety issues please get in touch. We all want to be warm in winter, but we must take appropriate action to prevent emergency situations from occurring.’

The following advice is aimed at reducing household fire risk this winter –

Fires and heaters

Open fires can provide a relaxing and atmospheric way to keep warm, while portable heaters can be moved around to where they are needed most. However, it is important to use them safely.

• Always use a fireguard to protect an open fire against flying sparks and hot embers and make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed. Never leave an open fire unattended.

• Have your chimney swept every six months – more often if you are burning logs.

• Never hang a mirror on a chimney breast in front of a fire. People stand in front of them to do their hair and their clothes can sometimes catch fire.

• If you experience a chimney fire put the fireguard in place, evacuate the house and call 999 to alert the Fire Service.

• Keep portable heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes. Always unplug electric heaters when you go out or go to bed.

Firefighters with failed electric blanketsElectric blankets

A recent safety campaign in the Isle of Man showed that almost half of all electric blankets tested were faulty and therefore posed a potential fire risk. Users are urged to have their blankets tested every two years and replace products that are more than 10 years old.

• Never use hot water bottles in the same bed as an electric blanket, even if the blanket is switched off.

• Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use.

• Don’t leave electric blankets folded as this damages the internal wiring. Store them flat or rolled up instead.

Candles can present a fire riskCandles

Candles are often used to brighten up dark evenings, but a naked flame can increase the risk of a fire if not treated responsibly. Station Officer Kinvig said:

‘People should make sure that candles are secured in a proper holder and away from materials that could catch fire – such as curtains. It is also very important that candles are put out completely when you leave the room or go to bed. And always remember to test your smoke alarm on a weekly basis as working smoke alarms save lives.’

For further information about fire safety, or to arrange a free home visit, contact 647329.

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