More than 500 accidental house fires were recorded across Scotland during last year’s festive season.
New figures lay bare the extent of seasonal dwelling fires responded to by firefighters, with 527 incidents recorded between December 11 and January 15.
The stark statistics further show that between December and January, 17 accidental house fires were caused by lighting – including fairy lights.
Accidental house fires can be caused by an increased use of heating and electrical appliances – as well as higher alcohol consumption during the holiday season.
Assistant Chief Officer David McGown is the SFRS Director of Prevention and Protection.
He spoke out as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service launches its winter awareness campaign to urge families to stay safe over this festive period.
ACO McGown said: “Ultimately, we want people to remember the festive period for all the right reasons.
“Christmas and New Year should be a happy time spent with family and friends. Unfortunately, we often identify an increase in accidental dwelling fires during this period.
“This winter SFRS will work closely with local communities and partner agencies to keep Scotland safe from fire and other emergencies – but as always, we need the public’s help to reduce the amount of preventable fires we might see in the coming months.
“I would directly appeal to people to check if their elderly relatives, neighbours or friends are in need of our support and to contact us directly.
“Home fire safety visits are a key pillar of our prevention work that help safeguard the public – especially vulnerable residents but also families and the wider community.
“These are free pre-arranged visits where SFRS staff identify signs to protect people and their homes.
“SFRS staff can also identify hazards in the home, help plan escape routes and supply and install smoke detectors for free – a vital tool for every home.”
ACO McGown also appealed to people to take care on the roads as the colder weather can also see firefighters attend more traffic collisions due to treacherous driving conditions during ice and flooding.
Urging drivers to ensure they are fully prepared before travelling this winter, ACO McGown said: “Every year across Scotland, there is a rise in emergency calls to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service due to winter weather.
“We urge the public to take action now and be prepared for whatever hazards might come in the next few months.
“We saw last year the devastating impact severe winter weather can have.
“If you do have to travel during severe winter weather, then it is essential that you ensure that your vehicle is serviced, well maintained and that you have important items with you – including things like a fully charged mobile phone, extra layers of clothing, food and a spade and salt.”
If you or someone you know is vulnerable or may be at risk from fire please get in touch and arrange a free home fire safety visit with local firefighters by calling 0800 0731 999.
For more advice on how to keep yourself and your home safe from fire during winter visit www.firescotland.gov.uk/winter