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Story Highlights

  • The entire family has a role to play in residential fire prevention this Christmas season.
  • Public Relations Officer at the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Emeleo Ebanks, said that cases of residential fire tend to be higher during the Christmas period, “due to holiday-related activities that increase our vulnerability to fires”.
  • He was speaking to JIS News about ways in which Jamaicans can protect their lives and property from fires this Christmas.

The entire family has a role to play in residential fire prevention this Christmas season.

Public Relations Officer at the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Emeleo Ebanks, said that cases of residential fire tend to be higher during the Christmas period, “due to holiday-related activities that increase our vulnerability to fires”.

He was speaking to JIS News about ways in which Jamaicans can protect their lives and property from fires this Christmas.

“At this time of the year…children are at home, we are decorating, we are doing more cooking, we are baking, we are putting up lights, and that leaves us more susceptible to the things that will start fires,” he said.

Noting that most residential fires are electrically related, Mr. Ebanks urges all residents to have the wiring of their homes checked annually by a certified electrician to ensure their homes can manage the boost in electricity at this time.

Additionally, he believes there are precautions both adults and children can take during the holiday period.

Children under the age of 12 and those who are unable to properly reach a stove top are not advised to cook. Children are also discouraged from plugging electrical appliances in and out at will, and are warned against playing with fires.

Mr. Ebanks also advises that you must never leave cooking unattended, and to outfit your home with affordable safety items, such as extinguishers, battery-operated smoke detectors in each room and a heat detector in the kitchen.

In keeping with the tradition of decorating the home and yard for Christmas, the JFB has shared several tips, including checking for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) quality and safety mark on electrical items.

“Ensure the lights, decorations and extension cords are UL-rated. Make sure outdoor lights are all-weather lights than can work on the outside. Inspect lights and other decoration for wear or damage to the insulation. Unplug lights when going to bed and when leaving the home as the heat from the lights can melt plastic Christmas trees and cause sparks on live trees,” Mr. Ebanks said.

He advises that live trees should be watered daily and positioned at least three feet away from all heat sources, such as television sets and other household appliances.

“If your lights, your cords, your plugs are damaged, do not repair and put some electrical tape over it. Replace them. It is easier, and you will find that it is more cost-effective than to replace a house,” Mr. Ebanks said.

“Those bags that you will be getting… the Christmas wrappers, throw them out. Those things, including curtains and dish towels, add to the fire load in your house. A normal-sized room takes three minutes to be engulfed in flames. When you add to the ‘fire load’, what you are doing is enabling that fire to spread much faster and, unfortunately, at 3:00 a.m. when everyone is sleeping, you are setting yourself up in what we call a death trap from that kind of situation,” he warned.

Jamaicans are reminded that they can visit any fire station across the island to receive fire-safety tips and also the Jamaica Fire Brigade’s social media pages where they will be posted.