Cleveland Fire Brigade say the kitchen is the most dangerous room in the house at any time and that dirty cookers, being under the influence of alcohol and being distracted and leaving cooking unattended are top of the Christmas list for causing a fire.
Between November last year and January 3, nearly 50% of accidental fires in the home were related to cooking – and figures show there has been a 24% increase in accidental fires in the home between April and September this year compared to the same period last year.
Steve Johnson, the brigade’s area manager for prevention, said: “Hopefully people listen to us and take on our advice, the last thing anyone needs at Christmas is a fire in their home. The damage a fire causes is horrendous and could leave people without a home to celebrate in.
“Start off on a sound footing with a clean oven and grill. Any build-up of grease provides the fuel for an oven or grill pan fire.”
The brigade were called out to tackle at least one oven blaze in Hartlepool on Christmas Day last year.
Mr Johnson added: “There are lots of distractions when cooking, particularly during the festivities, with friends and family visiting.
"Setting timers on your oven or phone or using devices like Alexa and Google can help.
“Pans on hobs are more dangerous. Clear the area around them so nothing can catch fire and keep a close eye on pans so they don’t boil dry. If you need to leave the room, turn things off and stay safe.
"People should also make sure that they have a smoke alarm and that it is serviceable.
Festive cooking tips include:
*Don’t leave cooking unattended;
*Don’t drink and cook;
*Keep it clean – a build-up of food deposit and fats can provide fuel for fire;
*Make sure you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home.
*If a fire does start. do not take any risks. Get out, stay out and dial 999.
For more fire safety advice, go to www.clevelandfire.gov.uk.
To take the brigade’s online Safer Homes check, go to the website and for advice about smoke alarms call (01429) 874063.