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'Stay warm and stay safe this winter' say firefighters


With winter now upon us and the cold weather closing in firefighters across West Sussex are highlighting a few simple fire safety precautions to help everyone stay warm and safe this winter.

Jackie Boyle, Community Fire & Road Safety Officer for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, explains:

"During the the winter months many of us spend more time indoors keeping as warm as possible. Some people may turn to extra heat sources like electric blankets and portable heaters to keep out the winter chill, but these bring with them an increased risk of fire in your home. Older residents can be particularly vulnerable in very cold weather, so it's really important for friends, relatives and neighbours to keep an eye out for them."

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service recommends the following:

Fires & Heaters

. Switch heaters off if you are not in the room and check they are off before you go to bed

. Keep heaters well away from anything that could catch light like curtains or furnishings and never use them for drying clothes

. Do not use portable heaters where they may be knocked over

. If you plan to use an open fire make sure you have your chimney professionally swept and cleaned

. If you are using an open fire always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers

. Make sure embers are properly put out before leaving the house or going to bed.

Electric Blankets

. Never use hot water bottles in the same bed as an electric blanket

. Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use

. Don't leave electric blankets folded as this damages the internal wiring

. Have your blanket checked regularly by a qualified electrician and always follow the manufacturers guidelines regarding their use and maintenance.

Decorative Lights and Electrical Safety

Fairy lights and Christmas tree lights don't get used very often, so you should make sure they are in good working order before using them:

. Check that lights aren't damaged or broken and look out for loose or worn wires

. Don't overload sockets

. Replace any bulbs that blow

. Switch the lights off when you go to bed or leave the house

. Don't let the bulbs touch anything that can burn easily, like paper or fabrics and other Christmas tree decorations

. If you are unsure about the safety of last year's Christmas lights, don't use them.

Protect Yourself

. Smoke alarms save lives but a smoke alarm can only alert you to the danger of a fire if it is working - so check it regularly!

. You may be eligible for a free Home Fire Safety Check - call 0800 3286487 to find out more