Winter chill sparks fire safety warning

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FIRE chiefs are urging people to take extra care in their homes to avoid fires breaking out over the winter months - after around 400 blazes in the last two years.

They are warning the risk of a house fire increases as temperatures drop, with more people using heaters, open fires and electric blankets.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has launched a ‘Safe and Warm’ campaign, urging people to heat their homes with care and to look out for older people, who may be at risk of a blaze.

Figures show that there have been close to 200 fires a year over the last two winters - a 20 per cent hike on the summer months.

And fire bosses fear that with energy price rises squeezing many residents’ post-Christmas pockets, some may be driven to heat their homes less safely.

Station manager Diane Malpass, of the fire service’s community safety department, said: “The number of house fires we attend continues to fall steadily every year.

“But as winter really starts to bite, we do see a seasonal increase in certain types of incident, such as accidental blazes started by heaters or unsafe electrical appliances.

“Just asking yourself a few simple questions about the safety of the equipment before switching it on, might be enough to protect you and your family from a serious fire.”

Residents should switch off electrical items before going to bed, keep heaters away from curtains and furniture, use guards if having an open fire and make sure they are out before bed.

The fire service is also warning people not to use hot water bottles in the same bed as an electric blanket.

Diane added: “Spending just a few minutes with an older person who lives alone, checking their heaters and electrics and testing their smoke alarm could make a massive difference.”

Visit www.syfire.gov.uk for more information on fire safety.