FIREFIGHTERS attended more than 500 accidental house fires during last year’s festive and New Year celebrations, latest figures show.
They were alerted to a total of 517 such emergencies at homes across Scotland between 7 December and 11 January.
Accidental fires over the winter months can be caused by an increased use of heating and electrical appliances plus higher alcohol consumption during the holiday season.
Meanwhile, the colder weather can also see firefighters attend more traffic collisions on the roads, caused by treacherous driving conditions during ice and flooding.
There were 230 such incidents over the same period last year.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is now urging families to stay safe this festive period – through five easy steps.
• Check smoke alarms – test every alarm in your house weekly to ensure they are in working order. Clean them to remove dust when needed
• Make sure your vehicle is winter ready - check tyre tread and ensure you have an emergency travel kit in your car in case of emergencies. This should include a first aid kit, blanket, an ice scraper and a shovel for snow. Visit the Ready Scotland website for more tips on driving in winter.
• Speak to older relatives, neighbours or friends – do they have working smoke alarms in their homes? Do they have an escape plan in case of a fire? If you are worried about an older person arrange a free Home Fire Safety Visit from our firefighters by calling 0800 0731 999
• Fit a Carbon Monoxide alarm - during a cold winter we use central heating and gas fires more often, so the time to fit and test Carbon Monoxide alarms is now. Already have one? Test and make sure it's working.
• Give your Christmas decorations the once-over - check fairy lights are in working order and ensure they are kept well away from paper or fabrics that can burn easily. Don't attach decorations to radiators and make sure they are a safe distance from fireplaces or candles. Always switch lights off when you leave the house or go to bed at night.
Assistant Chief Officer David McGown, Director of Prevention and Protection for SFRS, said: "Every year across Scotland, there is a rise in emergency calls to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service due to winter weather.
“We urge the public to take action now and be prepared for whatever hazards might come in the next few months.
“This winter SFRS will work closely with local communities and partner agencies to keep Scotland safe from fire and other emergencies - but as always, we need the public’s help to reduce the amount of preventable fires we might see in the coming months.
“It is vital that your home has working smoke alarms, enough so that everyone in your home will be alerted in the event of fire. You should also consider fitting a heat alarm in your kitchen.
“Please also think about friends, relatives and neighbours. Particularly older people. Do you know someone who has no working smoke alarm in their home? Contact SFRS for a free Home Fire Safety Visit.
“Winter weather also brings unexpected and dangerous conditions to our roads. It’s important to ensure that your vehicle is serviced, well maintained and that drivers take the necessary precautions when driving in bad weather.’’
SFRS would like you to have a happy and safe Christmas and New Year. If you or someone you know is vulnerable or may be at risk from fire please get in touch and arrange a FREE home fire safety visit with local firefighters by calling 0800 0731 999 or visit www.firescotland.gov.uk.
A wide range of tips on how to keep yourself and your home safe from fire are available on the SFRS website: www.firescotland.gov.uk/winter