Christmas is a great time to get together with family and friends, and Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to put fire safety at the top of their to-do list to help keep everyone safe.

While fire safety is vital throughout the year, the extra distractions of Christmas make it especially important to be vigilant during the festive season. This is why Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) is asking people to take extra care over the festive season to ensure that their families and loved ones are safe from fire.

This advice comes after there were 35 accidental fires in homes across Cumbria from December 1 2017 to January 11 2018.

The most common room where fires start is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the kitchen. Nearly 60 per cent of all the accidental fires attended by firefighters in Cumbria around the Christmas period last year started in the kitchen.

Edward Burrows, CFRS Community Safety Manager, said: “We want everyone to celebrate safely and take fire safety seriously this Christmas. Many of the things we enjoy over the Christmas period, such as fairy lights, candles and decorations, can all be fire hazards when proper care isn’t taken.

“We also need to be mindful that leaving cooking unattended can be one fire hazard that could be prevented, as could using the correct charging devices for items such as phones, laptops and torches.”

Top tips to stay safe:

•Ensure you have working smoke alarms installed on all levels of your home. Working alarms can give you the vital time needed to escape in a fire. Test your smoke alarms regularly and never remove batteries!

• Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Many of us enjoy a tipple over the festive season but be sure to avoid cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol. Always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.

• Never leave burning candles unattended. Keep candles out of the reach of children, and away from decorations, cards and wrapping paper, fires, lights and heaters.

• Put your cigarette out, right out. If you smoke, make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished and take care when under the influence of alcohol or if tired. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight.

• Never use heaters to dry clothes. Heaters can start fires when things are placed too close to them. Keep them well away from curtains, clothing and furniture.

• Don’t overload sockets. Ensure only one plug per socket. Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.

• Ensure you switch off fairy lights and unplug them before you go to bed or leave the home. Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598) and are in good working order before use.

• Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment. This safety device can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault and can be found in any DIY store.

• Do something good this Christmas. Test the smoke alarms of someone you know who may need help such as an older relative or neighbour to ensure their safety as they are at greater risk from fire.

•In the event of fire you should get out, stay out and call 999