With the capital set to bask in temperatures hotter than Ibiza at the weekend, firefighters have issued safety warnings, amidst concerns over a rise in fires.
Fire chiefs are particularly concerned about grass fires, those started by barbecues and those caused by the sun’s rays, which can be refracted through mirrors and glass and cause blazes.
London Fire Brigade Community Safety Group Manager Mark Hazelton said: “Warmer weather usually results in a rise in grass fires, which tend to be caused by people throwing cigarettes down. If you smoke, please dispose of your cigarette carefully to prevent grass fires, which can spread very quickly and cause a lot of damage.”
With more sunshine hours, comes the increased risk of fires caused by direct sunlight. Mark Hazelton said: “Many people don’t realise that fires can be caused by glass, mirrors or crystal ornaments being left in direct sunlight. They can refract the sunlight onto other objects and start a blaze. It’s a good idea to move glass and other shiny objects away from direct sunlight, such as from windowsills.”
In February a home in Twickenham was badly damaged and a dog died after the sun’s rays were refracted through a Nutella jarand onto window blinds, causing a serious fire.
Another cause of fires in the warmer months is barbecues. Said Mark Hazelton: “Our other concern is barbecues, which always come out when the temperature rises. If you’re having a barbecue, light it well away from anything that could catch fire, keep an eye on it and never use a barbecue indoors or on a balcony.”
The Brigade’s figures show that in London in the last five years:
- There have been 259 barbecue fires
- 8595 grass fires
- 117 fires caused by the sun’s rays.
The figures also showed a increase in the number of grass fires last year of almost 500 on the previous year. Fires caused by the sun’s rays rose by one last year.
- Never use a barbecue indoors or on a balcony
- Keep barbecues away from your home, sheds, fences, garden furniture and trees
- Only use approved barbecue fuel or fire lighters - never use petrol or paraffin
- Where possible, keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby for emergencies.
- Never leave camp fires or barbeques unattended and extinguish them properly after you have finished using them
- Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire
- Dispose of cigarettes safely.
- Keep mirrors and crystal or glass objects away from the sunny sills
- Fit at least one smoke alarm per floor and test them every week to make sure they work and the batteries are not flat.
- If you have a fire, close the door on the blaze, get out stay out and call the Brigade.