A WARNING has gone out to revellers in Bucks planning to celebrate Chinese New Year - to make sure they stay safe amid the merriment.

The Chinese year 4712 - the Year of the Horse - starts this Friday, January 31.

Community safety manager for Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Neil Boustred said: "The festivities are very special to our Chinese communities and often take place over a number of days. It’s a period of good luck and starting afresh.

"But there are fire risks associated with fireworks, candles, lanterns and cooking, so we would like to suggest a few simple precautions."

Neil offered the following safety advice:

•Treat fireworks with great caution. Only buy fireworks marked with British Safety Standard 7114 or the CE mark, and always read the instructions.

•Be extremely careful if you are planning to launch Chinese lanterns. They can rise to more than 1,000 feet, fly for up to 20 minutes and float for miles before landing. There have been a number of cases where firefighters in Bucks have had to tackle blazes caused by the lanterns - and there have been instances where animals that have ingested the wire used in the lanterns' construction have suffered painful deaths.

•When using candles, never leave them unattended. Put them out when going out or going to bed. Be sure to place them in a proper holder, and keep flames away from curtains, furniture and decorations. Long hair and clothing are also very flammable.

•Never leave cooking unattended. When cooking deep-fried food, dry it before you put it in the hot oil. Never fill the pan more than one third full of oil. If the oil starts to smoke, turn off the heat and leave the pan to cool. Never throw water over the pan.

•Don't overload electrical sockets and adaptors. Use the Electrical Safety Council’s Socket Overload Calculator to make sure you stay within the limits.

•You should have a working smoke alarm on the ceiling of each level of your home, and test your alarms regularly. Firefighters will carry out a free safety check in your home, and fit free smoke alarms where necessary, if you book by ringing 01296 744477 or emailing cs@bucksfire.gov.uk