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Stay Safe In The Snow

Friday 3rd December 2010

WITH snow covering Chesterfield, Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service are urging people to take extra care both in the home and when they are out and about.

Fire Officers are warning that, due to the continuing severe road conditions, even 999 responses may be slower and are offering advice which they hope will minimise the need for call outs.

Group Manager John Amos said: "With people heeding advice about not going out unless it is necessary, it is inevitable that we will all be spending more time indoors staying as cosy as possible.

"However, heaters and candles can bring an increased risk of fire in the homes and because of the adverse weather conditions, it could take firefighters a little longer to get to you if you need them.

"You can rest assured that if you need to call 999, we will be there, but by following some simple rules you can ensure you stay safe as well as warm."




Open fires can provide a relaxing and atmospheric way to keep warm, whereas portable heaters can be handily moved around, but it's important to use them safely:

  • Always use a fire guard to protect an open fire against flying sparks and hot embers and make sure embers are properly put out before you go out or go to bed.

  • Keep portable heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes. Always unplug electric heaters when you go out and go to bed.

  • If you use a blanket or throw over to keep warm, always remember to keep them away from open fires and heaters as some materials can catch fire very easily and it is safer to use natural fibres like wool for blankets as they are more resistant to flames and sparks.




Electric blankets can help you keep warm during the cold nights, but fires can be started by an electric blanket. 

  • Never use hot water bottles in the same bed as an electric blanket, even if the blanket is switched off.

  • Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use.

  • Don’t leave electric blankets folded as this damages the internal wiring.  Store them flat or rolled up instead.




Candles may also be used more to lighten up the dark evenings. As with open fires, a naked flame brings risks if they are not treated carefully.

John Amos said: "You should make sure that candles are secured in a proper holder, and away from materials that may catch fire - like curtains. It is also very important that candles are put out completely when you leave the room or go to bed.

"We recommend that battery operated 'candles' are used instead of the real thing as they look almost as realistic and are far safer. Many High Street shops do stock these and they come in all shapes and sizes with some being scented.

"Remember to test your smoke alarm every week as they are the most effective and simple way to protect your family and people in your house from fire throughout the year. Working smoke alarms save lives.

"And when the temperatures drop, frozen and icy water becomes extremely dangerous; even short exposure to extreme temperatures can have fatal consequences."


Make sure you listen out for weather warnings and be prepared to change or delay your journey depending on advice being given.

  • Get your vehicle serviced, that way, you know it won't let you down even if the weather does

  • Keep the cold out of your vehicle by checking and replacing the anti-freeze in the radiator

  • Most batteries last between two and four years. Make sure yours is fully charged and replace it if you’re not sure it's reliable

  • Lights can get filthy with all the spray in winter. Keep them clean and check the bulbs regularly so you'll be prepared for lower visibility and shorter days

  • Getting a better grip on the road takes more tyre tread in wet or icy conditions. Ensure your tyres are inflated to the manufacturers' recommended pressure and have at least 3mm of tread depth

  • Make sure your wiper blades aren't worn so you can keep your windscreen as clean as possible for the extra spray, ice and rain you get in winter

  • Dirty windows and mirrors can make it hard to see as the low winter sun hits. Make sure you keep them clean and free of ice and snow in colder weather. And it goes without saying that your windows are clear and de-misted before you set off!

  • Finally, don't forget to take a map with your for any unplanned diversions




Children are most at risk as they frequently see an attraction to playing on ice; pets are also increasingly likely to become stranded if not kept under close control and this can often lead to people risking their own lives to reach them.

Please remember the following advice:

  • Do not go onto ice-covered lakes, ponds or rivers - it's not safe!

  • In the event of entering icy water, hypothermia is likely to set in very quickly reducing the ability to get out safely.

  • The ice closest to the bank may appear to be thick, but it becomes thinner towards the middle.

  • If a dog or another animal falls through the ice, do not go to its rescue, if the ice did not support the animal it will not take your weight.

  • Do not become a victim; always call the Emergency Services on 999.

  • If you do see a person or animal in difficulties call 999 and direct the Emergency Services on their arrival.

John Amos said: "It is an almost inevitable fact that a spate of cold weather usually means we will find ourselves attending incidents involving someone who has got into difficulty whilst playing on or near water. It may seem attractive to young people but it is all too easy for them to get into trouble, often with tragic consequences."





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