Reduce your lockdown fire safety risks after spate of incidents in county

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) are urging people to be aware of some basic fire safety tips during lockdown, following a spate of fires caused by cooking and heating in the home.

With people across the county now asked to stay indoors to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and people working from home and home-schooling, they will be cooking more, using more electrical equipment and trying to keep warm against the winter weather.

Over the last week alone, Northamptonshire firefighters have dealt with five fires caused by cooking and five caused by electrical equipment.  There have also been three chimney fires in the last few days – more than normally expected.

Now NFRS is asking people to take time in their new routine to think about the increased risk of fire in their home and take action to keep safe.

Prevention Team Leader Darren Carson said:  “Now we are just one week into lockdown 3, we can already see that more house fires are happening because people are cooking more at home and they are working and learning indoors so are using more electrical equipment such as laptops and chargers – and they are using them for longer so they are warming up”.

“With the winter weather meaning that people are lighting their open fire or stove and turning on more heaters to keep warm, there are many more risks that they need to be aware of and guard against.”

Darren asked people when they are cooking to:

  • Make sure they don’t become distracted – at least one of these cooking fires was caused by food under a grill that caught fire when left alone
  • Turn off the cooker when you’ve finished
  • Keep it clean – another of this spate of fires was caused by a build-up of grease that ignited

“We don’t want to be alarmist but when you are at home more and following a different routine, you just need to be mindful. It’s easy to be distracted when you are juggling work and family at home and I certainly don’t want to add to people’s concerns, but we have seen a spate of fires that could have been prevented. These have included fires started by overheating laptops left on bedding as well as by electric blankets. Firefighters dealt with them all successfully but in some cases, they had spread really quickly and could have threatened homes and lives.”

In Rushden, the fire sparked by an electric blanket spread in just nine minutes to cause significant damage to the owner’s home.  The overheating laptop in Northampton destroyed the bedroom it had been left in.  Fortunately, no-one was injured in either case.

Simple steps to fire safety include:

  • Don’t overload sockets and plugs
  • Don’t leave heaters unattended or place them near clothing, curtains or items that can catch fire
  • Have your chimney swept regularly if you have an open fire or stove and use the right fuel
  • And fit smoke alarms throughout your home

You can find more detailed advice on all these risks on the NFRS website www.northantsfire.gov.uk.

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