Celebrate the festive season safely, urge firefighters

A range of key messages from Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service are being distributed in an effort to stop preventable fires and road traffic accidents around Christmas from happening.

These include never leaving candles unattended or lit overnight or when people go out and ensuring decorations, cards and wrapping paper are kept well away from candles, fires, lights and heaters.

Overloaded sockets can cause fires

When using Christmas decorative lights firefighters advise that one plug should be used per socket, to help avoid the risk of an electrical fire, and that plugs are off when not in use, which includes at night time and when people are not in the house.

Families congregate at Christmas which could mean a crowded house - firefighters ask that those cooking to not become distracted and ensure that cooking is never left unattended, as doing so could lead to a blaze.

Residents should also make sure smoke alarms are working; that they have completed an online home fire risk check to see how safely within the home could be improved and that an established escape plan is in place, which everybody in the house is familiar with.

Risks of drinking and driving

Road safety experts urge motorists not to drink and drive and instead encourage people to book a taxi; get a bus or train; walk home; stay overnight or appoint a designated non-drinking driver if out in a group and never accept a lift from a driver who has consumed alcohol.

Drivers should also secure parcels and pets whilst on the move, as loose objects can become missiles in a collision and check vehicles are roadworthy by assessing pressure and depth of tyres, that lights works, screen wash is topped up, that wipers work and oil levels are healthy.

Firefighters are asking motorists to drive to the road conditions by slowing down and remembering to allow more room between them and the vehicle in front as it takes significantly longer to break on wet or icy roads.

Avoid tragedy this festive season

Stuart Garner, Home and Community Safety Manager for Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The festive season is a special time for celebration and should not end in tragedy because of the extra hazards that are present during the Christmas period.

"It can be very easy to get distracted by family and friends, especially when cooking at this time of year. I would strongly urge people to never leave cooking unattended and to remember to turn off cookers and hobs when they have finished cooking.

"Plug sockets should not be overloaded and decorative lights should be switched off overnight and when not in use. Candles should never be left unattended and should be snuffed out before people retire to bed or go out."

Ensure smoke alarms work

Mr Garner added: "Checks smoke alarms to ensure they are in working order and carry out an online home fire risk check - by being aware of the risks and making a few simple checks people can ensure that they and their loved ones can celebrate in safety.

"I would also like to encourage residents to check on elderly relatives and vulnerable neighbours this Christmas to make sure they are safe at this time of year.”

Celebrate safely

Mick Clarke, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service Road Safety Manager, said: "People traveling to family or friends to celebrate Christmas or New Year should allow extra time for their journey, drive for the conditions and not exceed the speed limit, as well as taking regular breaks and if possible sharing the driving on long journeys.

“Christmas is a party time where a lot of alcohol is consumed and people may not be aware of how long it takes for alcohol to leave their system and may still be over the drink drive limit the next morning, even if they feel fine. Drinking coffee, sleeping, or having a shower don’t work. Time is the only way to get alcohol out of their system.”

Listen to safety messages

Councillor Rodney Rose, the Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, who has Cabinet responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Everybody at Oxfordshire County Council wants people to enjoy the festive season by celebrating with friends and family - however it is vitally important that key messages about home and road safety are obeyed to help prevent unnecessary fires or road traffic collisions."

The advice is part of 365alive, an Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service educational initiative designed to prevent fires and road traffic collisions.