Today’s columnist, James Courtney: Stay safe in your kitchen

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This month we’re launching a major campaign which aims to reduce kitchen fires across South Yorkshire.

The fire service is proud of its record, both locally and nationally, of reducing house fires.

In fact, South Yorkshire has never been safer with the number of accidental house fires having reduced by a third over the last decade.

But we know that every house fire has the potential to cause untold devastation in terms of lost property and potential threat to life.

So our work to keep people safe and prevent fires continues.

We also know that, statistically, December is a peak month for house fires.

Whether that’s due to people becoming distracted at such a hectic time of year, the influence of alcohol over the festive period or simply people being in their homes more during the winter months, it’s clear that now is a time to be particularly vigilant.

While it’s true that things like candles and fairy lights do present additional fire hazards in the home at this time of year, the fact remains that cooking continues to account for more than half of all the house fires we attend in South Yorkshire.

In this respect, we know there are some simple things everyone can do to prevent kitchen fires and keep you and your loved ones safe.

Do not leave cooking unattended – most of the kitchen fires our crews attend are caused by people becoming distracted and leaving their cooking on the go.

Simply being in the kitchen, paying attention to your cooking and switching off cooking equipment after use will massively reduce your risk of fire

Never use a chip pan – the fire service has campaigned on this issue for decades now, but still we attend dozens of incidents involving chip pans, or other hot oil pans, every year in South Yorkshire. Please use oven chips instead.

Don’t attempt to cook after a night out – alcohol is a big factor in a large number of kitchen fires as it makes people uncoordinated and more likely to fall asleep. If you do go on a night out this Christmas, please don’t try and cook when you get home.

We’ll be holding community events, delivering targeted advertising to high-risk groups and sharing kitchen safety messages online over the coming weeks, but you can do your bit too.

Please share this information to ensure your family, friends and loved ones have a safe and happy Christmas.

* James Courtney, chief fire officer for South Yorkshire