Winter Fire Safety Advice from the Highlands & Islands Fire & Rescue Service

Western Isle Fire and Rescue Service


Safety In The Home This Winter

The increased risk of fire during this forthcoming winter season has prompted the Highlands & Islands Fire & Rescue Service to call for householders in the Western Isles to install and maintain Smoke Alarms.

This will be a period when more heating, including chimneys & open fires, portable heaters and electric blankets are used, which increases the risk of fire.

The majority of fires, fire deaths and injuries occur in the home, and in order to prevent these tragedies happening, the installation and maintenance of Smoke Alarms is essential.

Keep An Eye On The Elderly

During the winter months the elderly are far more likely to become an unfortunate fire statistic than at any other time of the year. People over 60 make up 40% of all fire related deaths and injuries.

If you have an elderly relative or neighbour, keep a watch over them during these difficult times, you may be the one that can save their life. It may be that they do not have a Smoke Alarm or that you are concerned for their wellbeing with regard to Fire Safety in the home.

If this is the case, contact the Highlands & Islands Fire & Rescue Service on FREE PHONE 08000 12 13 12 for a FREE Home Fire Safety Check where Fire Officers will visit the home and provide valuable advice, and if needed they can fit smoke alarms free of charge.

Some helpful tips for keeping Fire Safe this Winter

Chimneys and open fires:

  • Have the chimney swept before lighting the first fire of winter and don't allow soot or ash to build up
  • Use a fireguard and do not put objects on, or mirrors over, a mantelpiece. People may be tempted to stand too close to the fire to reach them
  • Burn the recommended fuels and avoid resinous woods as soot from these builds up quickly
  • Do not overload the grate or bank fires too high, let fires burn down well before going to bed and check the hearth, floor and furnishings near the fire for sparks or embers
  • Inspect your chimney breast, particularly in the roof space. Make sure it is sound and that sparks or fumes can't escape through cracks or broken bricks.

Gas and space heaters:

  • Never sit too close to the heater, you could set light to your clothes or your chair especially if you fall asleep
  • Heaters should stand where they can't be knocked over and away from beds, furniture and furnishings
  • Do not put them where objects may fall on them and never dry clothes too close to the heater
  • Make sure all heaters are guarded, particularly if you have children
  • Never try to move any portable heater while it is alight - always turn it off and allow it to cool first.
  • If using a gas heater, ensure it has been serviced regularly
  • When changing a gas heater cylinder, try to do this in open air. Otherwise, open windows and doors to increase ventilation. Check that the valve on the empty cylinder is closed before disconnecting it and do not turn on the valve of the new cylinder until it is securely connected to the heater
  • Store spare cylinders upright and outside whenever possible. Never store them in basements, under stairs or in cupboards containing electric meters or equipment.


Candles are popular. You can get them in a variety of colours, shapes, sizes and fragrances. But candles have naked flames which can cause a fire if you are not careful.

You can be safe by taking a few simple precautions:

  • Place your candles on a flat and stable surface.
  • Always use a proper candleholder and make sure the candle fits firmly inside it. Leave plenty of space above and around the candle and candleholder.
  • Keep candles away from draughts. Keep them away from curtains, furniture, and anything else that can catch fire.
  • Always put the candleholder on a heat resistant surface like a ceramic plate. This is especially important for 'tea lights'. Never put candles on polished surfaces like televisions.
  • Never leave candles unattended or go to sleep when they are alight.
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Never try to move a candle once it is lit.
  • Use a candle snuffer or a metal spoon to put the candle out. Let it cool down before you move it.

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