Firefighters are urging people to check on vulnerable family members and neighbours over Christmas after figures showed there were more than 500 accidental house fires during last year’s festive period.
Increased use of heating and electrical appliances, as well as higher alcohol consumption, have been highlighted as contributing factors to 527 house fire calls in Scotland between December 11 last year and January 15.
Among the fires, 17 were found to have been caused by lighting, including Christmas decorations.
Assistant Chief Officer David McGown has launched a winter awareness campaign with a call for people to particularly check fire safety among elderly relatives, neighbours and friends.
He said: “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 (Scottish Fire and Rescue Service) 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.”
Drivers are also a focus of the awareness campaign.
Mr 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.”