London Fire Brigade

Firefighters urge caution during 'arctic blast'

17 January 2013

Firefighters are urging people to take care during the freezing weather conditions which are set to affect the capital for several days according to Met Office forecasters. The warning comes following two serious fires this week caused by Londoners taking extreme measures to keep warm.

Fire chiefs are concerned that unless people take care, they could see an increase in the number of cold weather related incidents such as people falling through ice, floods caused by frozen pipes, and fires caused by electric heaters.

Just yesterday, fire crews were called to rescue an elderly man from a serious blaze in Wembley, which fire investigators believe was caused by a halogen heater being left too close to flammable items. At the weekend, firefighters were also called to a fire in Fulham that was caused by an electric blanket accidentally being left on for the weekend.

The Brigade’s Third Officer, Dave Brown, said:

“These freezing conditions can cause us a headache as people take risks that they wouldn’t normally. Our advice is simple: stay off frozen ponds, lag your pipes to prevent your home from flooding, and be extremely careful with electric heaters to prevent fires.

“We’re particularly concerned about those using electric heaters to keep warm. Heaters cause around a fire a day in London so if you use one, please make sure it’s kept well away from anything that could catch fire like curtains or furniture.”

The Brigade said its crews are trained and equipped with equipment including emergency rescue boats, inflatable rescue paths, mud lances, thermal clothing and dry suits, to be used in case anyone does get stuck on, or in, an icy lake or pond.

The Brigade’s winter weather advice is as follows:

  • Take extra care in the home to avoid fires. Unattended cooking, candles and heaters all pose a serious fire risk in the home.
  • Stay well away from frozen ponds and lakes and keep an eye on dogs. London’s firefighters are called to rescue people and pets who have fallen through or become trapped on ice every year.
  • Fit a smoke alarm on each level of your home to give you a vital early warning if a blaze breaks out.
  • Lag your pipes to prevent them from freezing and reduce the risk of flooding. The number of flooding incidents often shoots up during very cold weather.
  • Drive carefully on icy roads.
  • Keep children (and dogs) away from frozen ponds and lakes.

ENDS

Notes to editors

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