The winter period from December until the end of February is a high-risk time of year for accidental house fires.
Over winter, and especially during Christmas, many additional fire dangers are introduced into the home, such as candles, Christmas tree lights, open fires and portable heaters.
The top cause of accidental fires in the home during this time is cooking- followed by electrics and careless use of smoking materials. Personal behaviours such as alcohol consumption can also be a factor in the likelihood of a fire occurring.
Suzanne Fleming, Group Commander, NIFRS, explains:
“This year 9 people have tragically lost their lives as a result of an accidental house fire. This is an increase from 5 people in 2020.
“This increase is especially concerning as this year’s deaths occurred before this high risk winter period, when the risk of house fires increases. Therefore I am asking the community to be especially aware of how to stay safe from fire in their homes during the winter months and festive period.
“It is vitally important that you have working smoke alarms. Be aware of Christmas fire hazards - such as candles, Christmas tree lights, and overloaded sockets - and make sure they are being used safely. As the cost of your heating may have gone up this year, you may want to light open fires that haven’t been lit for a while or use portable heaters. Make sure a suitably trained person has serviced your chimney, flue or appliance before you use it, and keep heaters away from soft furnishings and Christmas decorations.
“Please also check in with your older family, friends and neighbours, and those who are isolated in our community, and make sure they too are doing all they can to stay safe from fire. If you feel that you, or someone you know, could benefit from additional advice from us, then please apply for a free Home Fire Safety Check on our website www.nifrs.org.
“We want you to enjoy yourself over the coming weeks by following our fire safety advice and ensuring you’re prepared for winter. By looking after your own safety, and the safety of those around you, it allows for us all to be ‘Safer Together.’
“Happy Christmas and stay safe in 2022.”