Date: 28th November, 2019
Swindon residents are being reminded to be more fire safe in the home, after more than half of all accidental fires in the town over the last year were due to cooking or smoking.
Since December 2018, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has attended 124 accidental fires in the home within the Swindon area – 64 of these were directly attributed to cooking, and eight related to smoking.
Group Manager Glyn Moody said: “The local figures reflect the national picture, where 48% of all accidental dwelling fires last year were down to cooking appliances, and 8% were attributed to smokers’ materials. However, fires involving smokers are where we see the most fatalities, and we had one such fire death locally in the last year.”
He added: “Wherever possible, we carry out Safe & Well visits following fires in the home, which include fitting smoke alarms and advising the occupants on how best to prevent further fires in the future. In some cases, we also do ‘hot strikes’, where we target other homes on the street, as those neighbours will be aware that something has happened and will want to be better protected themselves.”
Amongst the Service’s top tips for kitchen safety are:
- Keep the oven, hob and grill clean as a build-up of fat or grease can catch fire when hot.
- Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob, and take care if you’re wearing loose clothing.
- Make sure children are never left alone in the kitchen when you’re cooking.
- Saucepan handles left sticking out create a danger – there’s a risk they could be caught, leading to the pans being knocked off the hob.
- Use spark devices to light gas cookers as they are safer than matches and lighters.
- Wherever possible, never leave cooking unattended. If you do have to leave, set a timer – on the cooker or through your phone or watch – so that you don’t lose track of time.
- Keep electrical leads and appliances away from water.
- Rather than use a chip pan, use a thermostatically controlled deep fat fryer, which can’t overheat.
- Avoid cooking if you are tired, have been drinking alcohol or are taking medication that leaves you drowsy.
- If you’re going to the pub and think you’ll want something to eat afterwards, get a takeaway!
These simple steps can help prevent a cigarette fire in the home:
- Never smoke in bed. Take care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight.
- Never smoke indoors when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your lit cigarette starts a fire, you could be less able to escape.
- Ideally, only ever smoke outdoors – but always make sure you dispose of matches and cigarette butts carefully.
- Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended as they can easily overbalance as they burn down.
- Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of material that won’t burn.
Group Manager Moody said: “The most important thing that any home can have is a working smoke alarm, and ideally one on every level of the property. Once they’re fitted, they must be tested regularly – and if you’re unfortunate enough to have a fire, get out, stay out, and call 999.”
To request a free Safe & Well visit, or to find out more information about being safe at home, visit www.dwfire.org.uk