Enjoy the warm weather safely, firefighters urge

Seasonal advice is being given out about being safe when barbequing; during trips to the countryside and whilst at home and also about the potential hazards of swimming in unsupervised locations, such as rivers, canals or lakes.

Safety tips on cooking outdoors

People cooking outdoors are asked to use a barbeque or a gas stove instead of an open fire to help contain flames and make sure the surrounding area is clear from items such as tents, fences or trees, which can catch fire easily.

Other tips for those using barbeques include:

  • Not taking a smouldering or lit barbeque into a tent, caravan or cabin, as they give off deadly fumes for several hours after use
  • Not to use petrol to start or reignite a barbeque and ensuring people do not move a lit barbeque or leave it unattended
  • Remembering signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea and loss of consciousness: barbeques, whether hot or cold, will still emit the deadly gas

Sun's rays can cause fire

Dry ground in summer can increase the risk of fires being caused in the countryside by people throwing lit cigarettes or leaving a bottle behind after a picnic, which can catch the sun's rays and cause a blaze.

Firefighters are also wanting residents to ensure mirrors, glass ornaments and paperweights in the home are not exposed to direct sunlight, as rays reflected from them could become focused on nearby objects such as curtains, clothing, paper or furniture, would could lead to fire.

Do not swim in open water

People thinking of cooling off by having a dip in a river, lake, canal or isolated pool are warned that they are putting themselves in potential danger, as even if there are people around, they may struggle to offer assistance.

Firefighters strongly recommend that swimmers only ever use supervised locations where there will be lifeguards present.

Enjoy the summer, but be safe

Stuart Garner, Home and Community Safety Manager for Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Everybody at Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service wants people to enjoy the summer weather in every way that they can, but also to take on-board some essential seasonal safety messages, to ensure that fires or rescue situations are not mistakenly caused.

"Barbeques can present dangers if not used properly: they should be on a flat surface away from fences, trees or sheds and ignited with barbeque fire lighters on cold coals. Under no circumstance should petrol be used.

"Ashes must be cold before they are disposed: hot ones can melt the plastic of a wheelie bin and cause a fire and users should be aware of the possible deadly effects that the carbon monoxide gas emitted from barbeques can have on people."

Take extra care

Mr Garner added: "Fires in the countryside and at home at this time of the year can be caused by the sun's rays being magnified and causing fires when focussed on glass, such as discarded bottles or mirrors in the home: it makes sense to ensure glass objects are not placed in direct sunlight in the home and to dispose of glass bottles when out and about via recycling bins, to eliminate the risk of fire.

"Throwing lit cigarettes from car windows or whilst walking could mean they catch fire with dry grass or leaves. I would advise anybody who comes across a fire in the countryside that cannot be tackled with a bucket of water to leave the area as swiftly as possible and contact the fire and rescue service immediately.

"Obviously temperatures at this time of year are high and might lead to people thinking a swim in a river, lake or canal would be a good idea in order to cool off: I want to emphasise that doing so could put individuals in extreme danger, as they may find themselves in difficulty in the water, even if they are a strong swimmer. My strong advice is to stick to swimming in supervised locations, where lifeguards will be present."