The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is urging citizens to take appropriate steps to ensure their personal safety and that of their property during the festive season.
One of their main concerns is decorated Christmas trees, as they can cause considerable damage to property during the yuletide season, if a fire occurs.
Speaking at a JIS 'Think Tank' on December 11, Assistant Superintendent in charge of communication at the JFB, Emilio Ebanks, emphasised that extra precaution should be exercised in relation to the decoration of Christmas trees, adding that statistics indicate that these decorations pose the greatest fire risk.
He pointed out that during this time of the year, there is a noticeable spike in fire related deaths and called on Jamaicans to adhere to good safety practices.
"Don’t put up your trees too early, because the heat generated in the house and from the (Christmas) light bulbs dry the trees, and the drier they get the more likely they will start a fire or contribute to one,” he said.
On the matter of decorative lights, the Assistant Superintendent pointed to the practice of stacking lights, especially on Christmas trees. This is a dangerous practice and if one is not careful, the lights could become a fire hazard.
“Don’t plug more than three of these lights into one another. Anything over that you’re overloading your circuit. When you overload your circuit, this can start a fire,” he warned.
Mr. Ebanks also pointed to the outdoor use of decorative lights and the lack of care in installing them. “Great care must be taken to ensure that plugs on the outside are properly protected,” he stressed.
“You might have a shower of rain, and the plug gets submerged and anyone who comes along will step into the water and may get electrocuted. You must also ensure that the lights are checked and that they are not chafed in any way. Lastly, when it comes to decorations and lights, plug them out before you retire to bed at nights,” he implored.
Two other concerns cited by Mr. Ebanks are the use of candles and the practice of leaving children at home unattended. These, he said, are serious concerns to the JFB.
He said that candles should be kept away from areas where flammable materials can cause a fire. "You might have these candles in the bedroom, make sure that you keep them away from the sheets and curtains. Always make sure they are in candle holders," Mr. Ebanks said.