London Fire Brigade

Firefighters urge party goers not to lose their keys this Christmas

27 December 2015

We're urging Londoners not to lose their keys following parties and celebrations over the festive season, as new figures show firefighters are called out 16 times a day to people locked in or locked out of their homes so far this year.

'Locked out' call outs have cost taxpayers more than £9.5 million over the last five years, with London's fire crews attending 32,758 of the calls since 2011.

Firefighters have been to 5,798 'locked out' calls this year (up to 11 December) – over half (55%) of which were not deemed emergencies when firefighters arrived on the scene.

The Brigade have released these figures as part of the festive alcohol awareness campaign Eat, Drink and Be Safe.

The campaign is a collaboration between us, London Ambulance Service and Metropolitan Police Service and backed by GLA and the City of London. 

Only dial 999 if 'there is a real emergency'

Director of Operations Dave Brown said: "Getting locked out can be a real pain, but you should not dial 999 unless there is a real emergency.

"We're urging everyone to take care with their keys and this is something we're particularly concerned about with the Christmas party season upon us.

"If you're planning on having a few Christmas sherries, we'd urge you to leave a key with a friend or neighbour, rather than risk calling 999 and wasting emergency service time."

As well as thousands of calls to people who have locked themselves in or out of their homes, the new figures also show the Brigade is called to free people from more unusual places like cemeteries, libraries, shops, toilets and cupboards.

Steffan George, from the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA), said: "There are around 3,000 locksmiths in the UK so there's really no excuse not to call one if you find yourself locked in or out.

"In most situations, a locksmith should be with you within an hour.

"It's always advisable to contact a qualified and inspected locksmith, such as those vetted by the MLA.

"I'd even suggest storing the phone number of a local locksmith in your mobile in case you ever need it."

Always attend an emergency

The Brigade says it will always attend if there is an emergency or if someone's life is at risk, such as when people have collapsed behind locked doors or have locked their medication inside and need it urgently.

Firefighters are often called out when there's a risk of a fire, such as when people have left cooking, irons, hair straighteners or candles on inside their homes and have then locked themselves out.

If on arrival at a 'locked out' incident, the firefighters find no evidence of a danger of fire, or life threatening circumstances, they will take no action to help the person to get into the locked property.

Eat, Drink and Be Safe WhatsApp alerts

Londoners can sign up to Eat, Drink and Be Safe WhatsApp alerts for free, helpful video hints and reminders from the capital's emergency services directly to their phone.

Alerts will be sent throughout the Christmas party season a regular basis until New Years Day.

Sign up to our WhatsApp messages

  1. Save the Eat, Drink and Be Safe number into your phone contacts 07899 782 640
  2. Send a message saying "I'm in", to the Eat, Drink and Be Safe WhatsApp number
  3. Eat, drink and let us help you stay safe – you'll receive your first video message soon

Opting out

When you're partying is done let us know and we'll stand our people down. Just send a message saying "STOP", to the Eat, Drink and Be Safe WhatsApp number 07899 782 640.