FIREFIGHTERS are reminding resident they will be on hand to step in to any emergencies in Bucks over the Christmas period – but have issued safety advice to help people keep dangerous mishaps at bay.

Last Christmas Day, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service was called out to 20 incidents, including two kitchen fires. The previous year there were 30 incidents, including a turkey on fire in an oven and a Christmas pudding that had been microwaved for too long.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Jason Thelwell, Director of Public Safety, said: “Although we are always there when you need us in an emergency, we hope your celebrations will go without a hitch.

“It can be so chaotic in some homes on the big day that it is easy for your concentration to slip and for something untoward to happen.

“By following a few simple pieces of advice, you can give yourself the best possible chance of making sure that it’s a safe holiday as well as a happy one.”

If you don’t have smoke alarms, and you are looking for a New Year resolution, make 2013 the year you contact Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service for free home safety check. Just ring 01296 744477 or send an email to

Jason’s top tips for a disaster-free festive period are:

• Don’t overdo it with your favourite tipple while you are cooking! The risk of accidents, especially in the kitchen, is greater after alcohol is consumed.

• If there are any smokers in your house, make sure they put out their cigarettes properly and are careful with matches and lighters.

• Make sure your family and any visitors staying for the holidays know what to do in an emergency. Practise a fire escape plan.

• Switch off electrical appliances when not in use, unless they're designed to stay on. Always switch off and unplug Christmas lights before you go to bed.

• Never place candles near your Christmas tree, furnishings or decorations. Don't leave them burning unattended.

• Use the festive period as a reminder to carry out a weekly check on your smoke alarm. Test the battery and remove any dust from the alarm.

• Celebrating with fireworks? Then store them in a metal box, read the instructions, never go back to a lit firework and keep a bucket of water nearby.

• Drive carefully if you are visiting friends or relatives - allow plenty of time for the journey, and check on the latest traffic and weather information.

• Finally, take the time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours – make sure they are safe from the risk of a fire.