People across the West Midlands are being urged to be extra careful at home this half term especially during Chinese New Year (12 Feb), Valentine’s Day (14 Feb) and Pancake Day (16 Feb), to ensure their lockdown celebrations don’t end in flames.
With restaurants, pubs and other venues closed because of the pandemic, more people than usual will be cooking and spending time at home this half term, so West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) is urging them to help reduce the potential for more accidental fires.
Cooking fires account for half of all accidental fires at home, but many can be easily avoided by following some simple kitchen safety tips. These include:
- ensuring pan handles don’t stick out on the hob
- keeping loose clothing, cloths and tea towels away from the cooker
- checking children are not left unattended in the kitchen
- turning the oven off after cooking and not consuming alcohol before or during cooking.
Cooking oil, which can ignite easily, also needs to be used with extreme care. Candles on Valentine’s Day can create a relaxing or special atmosphere but they should be kept in sight at all times and put out properly before leaving a room or going to bed. The safer alternative is to use LED candles.
For Chinese New Year, WMFS is also discouraging households from using sky lanterns. They are extremely dangerous, bad for the environment and can potentially put extra pressure on fire and rescue services. A fire in Smethwick in 2013 caused by a sky lantern needed 39 fire appliances and more than 200 firefighters to tackle it over a number of days.
Pete Wilson, WMFS’s Group Manager for Prevention, said: ‘Like so many other celebrations over the last 12 months, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day will all be spent at home this year.
‘Whether you’re flipping pancakes, cooking up a romantic meal or lighting candles, we would urge everyone to keep an eye on kitchen and home safety to ensure they’re not putting themselves at risk of fire.
‘Cooking is the biggest cause of accidental fires in the home, but it’s not just the kitchen where you need to be careful and not get distracted. While candles can create some romance on Valentine’s Day, LED candles are a much safer and recommended alternative.
‘While we acknowledge that sky lanterns are a Chinese New Year tradition, they pose a very real fire risk to livestock, agriculture, properties and hazardous material sites.’
For the latest cooking and candle safety tips and what to do in the event of a fire, please visit our home safety page.