FIREFIGHTERS have been doing their bit to warn of the perils of the festive season during a special awareness day in Littlehampton.
As the chill of winter creeps closer and with residents in the town starting to plan their Christmas parties, firefighters, alongside community volunteers, were warning shoppers at Tesco, in Broadpiece, about the danger of drinking and driving and household fires, on Thursday.
The cold weather has already seen a sharp rise in chimney fires across the county and with a cold snap predicted to hit the country in the coming weeks, firefighters are worried that blazes sparked by candles and chimneys could increase.
Jackie Boyle, community fire safety officer for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We know many people will turn to open fires to keep out the winter chill, but if basic safety precautions aren’t followed they can become a serious fire hazard.
“The best piece of advice we can give to anyone planning to light a fire this winter is to make sure they get their chimney checked and swept.
“Chimney fires are one of the most common incidents that our crews attend, but many could so easily have been avoided.
“The consequence of a chimney fire isn’t just the damage caused by the blaze itself; there is also the damage from the soot and smoke, which can affect all of your personal property.
“If you are able to, inspect your chimney breast, particularly in the roof space.
“Make sure that it is sound and that the sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks.
“Of course, you should also make sure you have a working smoke alarm on each level of your home – that early warning to a fire really is a lifesaver and means damage to your property can, hopefully, be kept to a minimum.” Littlehampton firefighter James Diston also warned of the dangers of drink-driving. He has urged people to enjoy the festive period – but responsibly.
If drinking, ensure a safe lift home is available. This could be with a designated driver or taxi service.
Also allow enough time for alcohol to leave your system before driving.
He said: “Getting a £5,000 fine, a criminal record and losing your driving licence – possibly even your job – for the sake of a £20 taxi ride is a very poor exchange.”