Fire safety advice to ensure Norfolk residents stay safe at home this winter

Norfolk residents are being reminded to stay safe in their homes this winter by the fire prevention team at Norfolk Fire and Rescue service (NFRS). 

Traditionally, winter sees an increase in calls made to the fire service to attend incidents in homes as people light open fires, use candles on dark evenings and switch on electric blankets. As Norfolk residents are starting to put up Christmas trees inside and outside their homes which potentially pose extra fire risks.

Garry Collins, Head of Fire Prevention and Protection, said: “Members of the public can take some simple steps to reduce the risk of fire occurring in their home this winter. At this time of year residents may be starting to put up Christmas trees including festive lights.

“Please ensure that any tree lights are turned off and unplugged at bedtime. If you have lights up outside the home, ensure they have the correct plugs and wiring for outdoor use.

“Historically, December and January account for the highest number of accidental fires in the home across Norfolk. Our advice remains, in the event of a fire in your home, residents should get out, stay out and call us out.”

Other advice from Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service this winter includes:

• Always use a fixed and secure fire guard, and never leave a fire unattended. Never dry clothes over or near a fire, and keep the area around it clear.
• Keep your chimney and flues clean, sweeping at least once a year if used frequently. Make sure embers are properly put out before going to bed or leaving the home.
• Be careful driving during the winter, especially in the mornings. Icy conditions can lead to accidents on the road.
• Check electric blankets before use and service annually. Over blankets are designed to be left on, but under blankets must be switched off before getting into bed. Hot water bottles must not be used with electric blanket in the same bed.
• Don’t place heaters near combustible items, curtains, furnishings, clothes or newspapers, and always switch off when you go to bed or leave your home.
• Remember not to overload plugs. Check the maximum amps that the fuse in the plug can handle. In the event of a power cut, ensure that all appliances are switched off – there is a danger that they could come on again unnoticed, after the power is restored.
• Are you a smoker? Try to keep the habit outdoors, and when inside make sure you use deep ashtrays and stub each cigarette out properly. Never empty into a plastic bin, especially last thing at night before going to bed. Never smoke in bed.
• Spare a thought for elderly relatives, friends and neighbours during the winter months. Make sure their smoke alarms are checked and see if they need help getting prescriptions.

Norfolk's fire prevention team continues to offer home fire safety checks to residents in a bid to reduce the risk of fires occurring. The team works closely with other agencies, including Norfolk County Council’s Public Health and Road Safety teams, other local councils, police and its volunteers to help get fire prevention messages out to the public.

The home fire safety checks include work with Public Health to offer information about smoking cessation, falls prevention and wellbeing support.

Community volunteers help to spread the messages with rural home safety checks in isolated areas, including advice on staying warm, safe and well.

Garry Collins said: “We could not deliver the quality and volume of our prevention work without this valued and trusted support from volunteers. Our volunteer base has expanded to almost 50, from a wide section of the community. Dedicated individuals work tirelessly to deliver key safety prevention events.

Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Communities Committee, Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, said: “As a result of volunteers' support, our fire service has fitted more than 1,000 Norfolk households with smoke alarms and delivered Crucial Crew fire survival guidance to more than 150 primary schools across the county, in partnership with community safety staff and other partner agencies.”