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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Great advice from NIFRS to help you be fire safe when staycationing this summer

With ‘staycationing’ on the increase due to Covid-19 restrictions preventing many people from travelling overseas, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is urging everyone to follow their simple advice to stay safe this summer.

Paddy Gallagher, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said:

“This summer season in particular presents different challenges for us to deal with, as many people are choosing to holiday at home rather than travel overseas, and we want to ensure that the community is aware of how to keep themselves safe.

“By following our simple safety advice, acting responsibly and remaining vigilant to danger, we can all work together to help prevent fire and accidents.”

Health Minister Robin Swann said:

“As we move into the summer months and look forward to holidays, many people will plan activities involving barbecues, camping, boats and caravanning. Whilst enjoying these activities, I would urge people to follow safety advice from our fire service.

“Please take necessary precautions to protect the environment and keep everyone safe. I would also urge people to continue to abide by the public health advice and COVID-19 restrictions. This is how we protect ourselves and others. Please stay safe, vigilant and maintain social distancing.”

NIFRS has highlighted key advice to follow to help everyone make sure their summer doesn’t end in tragedy this year.

NIFRS Group Commander Suzanne Fleming said:

“When staying in an unfamiliar environment, such as an apartment or caravan, make sure to have working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan. In a caravan, don’t dry clothes next to a heater; turn off gas when not in use and store fuel six metres away from your caravan or mobile home and away from heat.

“If camping, tents should be pitched at least 6 metres apart from other tents, always cook outside and well away from your tent and don’t cook near flammable materials or long grass. Always store flammable liquids or gas cylinders away from the tent.

“When on a boat fit a smoke alarm, make a fire action plan and ensure everyone on board is aware of what to do if there is a fire. Fit a fire extinguisher in the engine compartment and the cockpit locker, and contain and vent battery boxes.

“We’re also reminding people when barbecuing to make sure your barbecue site is flat and away from fences, trees, shrubs and sheds, to never leave a barbecue unattended and never barbecue while under the influence of alcohol.

“The number of gorse and wildfires we attend can increase over the summer and many are started deliberately- please be vigilant over the coming months and any suspicious behaviour should be reported to the police immediately.

“If you’re near water, please act responsibly and always take basic safety precautions. When swimming at the beach, pay close attention to any warning signs or safety flags. Whenever possible, swim at a beach with a lifeguard. Seek advice about water conditions and where it’s safe to swim - you need more energy to handle the currents and other changing conditions.”




• Make sure your barbecue site is flat and away from fences, trees, shrubs and sheds.

• Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby in case of emergencies.

• Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbecue - use firelighters or starter fuel on cold coals.

• Keep children, pets and garden games away from the cooking area.

• Never leave a barbecue unattended.

• Concentrate on what you are doing; it’s easy to get distracted when you have family and friends around.

• After cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before moving it.

• Make sure ashes are cold before disposal.

• Remember, alcohol consumption increases the risk of accidents occurring.

Additional Tips for Gas Barbecues

• Make sure your barbecue is in good working order.

• Make sure the gas tap is turned off before changing the cylinder and always disconnect the cylinder in open air.

• When you have finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before you turn off the barbecue controls – this ensures any gas in the pipework will be exhausted.


• Tents should ideally be pitched at least 6 metres apart from other tents.

• Keep a torch handy. Never light a candle or have any kind of flame burning apparatus in or near to a tent.

• Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.

• General advice is to always cook outside and well away from your tent, no matter how large. Cooking appliances should never be used in small tents.

• Don’t cook near flammable materials or long grass.

• Store flammable liquids or gas cylinders away from the tent.

• Never smoke inside a tent.

• A fire can destroy a tent in 60 seconds so it is essential you have an escape plan and be prepared to cut your way out of the tent if there is fire.

• Make sure everyone knows what to do if their clothes catch fire - stop, drop to the floor and roll to put out the flames.

• If somebody else’s clothes catch fire, tell or force them to drop and try to smother the flames with a blanket or large item of clothing to quell the flames, then get them to roll.

• Find out what the Firefighting arrangements are in place for the campsite.

• If you do not have a mobile phone then find out where the nearest phone is located.


• Park caravans and mobile homes at least 6 metres apart.

• Make a fire escape plan.

• If there’s a fire – get out, stay out and call the Fire & Rescue Service immediately.

• Make sure you can get out of a window if needed.

• Fit a smoke alarm and test it once a week.

• You should consider getting a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket, and know how to use them properly.

• Do not dry clothes on or right next to a heater.

• Make sure heaters are working properly – use a Gas Safe engineer to fix gas heaters.

• Turn gas off when not in use.

• Fit a Carbon Monoxide detector and keep air vents clear.

• Don’t overload sockets; an adapter with a lead is safer.

• Smoking inside can be dangerous so smoke outside.

• Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.

• Never leave cooking unattended.

• Take extra care when cooking with hot fats and oils.

• Never put water on burning oil or fat.

• When not in use, fuel should be stored ideally six metres away from your caravan or mobile home and away from heat.


• Fit a smoke alarm.

• Ensure furnishings, foam and insulation are fire retardant.

• Make a fire action plan and ensure your crew are aware of what to do if there is a fire.

• Fit a fire extinguisher in the engine compartment and the cockpit locker.

• Contain and vent battery boxes.

If a fire occurs on the marina:

• If safe to do so, isolate gas and fuel supplies.

• Evacuate the craft and ensure all the crew are wearing lifejackets.

• Call the Fire & Rescue Service.

• Stay out.

• Warn neighbouring craft.

If a fire occurs at sea

• Only tackle a fire if it is safe to do so.

• Contact the Coastguard/Fire & Rescue Service.

• Identify position or give landmarks.

• Ensure all crew are wearing lifejackets.

• Prepare emergency grab bag (flares, VHF radio, compass) and life raft.

• If safe to do so, isolate gas and fuel supplies.

• Do not open the engine panel.

• Only as a last resort abandon ship.


• Remember there is no supervision by lifeguards if you get into trouble.

• The water is often a lot colder than you expect and it can impact on your physical capabilities. Just because you can swim well in a warm swimming pool doesn’t mean you’ll be able to swim well in cold water.

• It can be deep and it is often very difficult to estimate the depth before you get in.

• You can jump in but can you get out? Often people can’t find a suitable place to get out.

• There is no way of knowing what lies beneath the surface. There could be shopping trolleys, open tin cans and broken bottles.

• If it’s polluted it could make you ill.

• There may be hidden currents.

• Never drink alcohol during or just before swimming or while carrying out other activities such as boating or water skiing.

• If you are going to go swimming, make sure that somebody is nearby so you can shout for help if you get into difficulties.

Swimming at the Beach.

• Children should always go to the beach with an adult. An adult can point out dangers and help if someone gets into difficulty.

• When you are swimming at the beach, be aware of which flag is flying as this will warn you of any dangers.

• A red and yellow flag means lifeguards are on patrol.

• A red flag means it is dangerous to bathe or swim, so don’t go into the water.

• A quartered black and white flag means that the area has been zoned for use of surf boards and kayaks and is not safe for swimmers and bathers.

• If you see someone in difficulty in the water, tell somebody, preferably a lifeguard if there is one nearby. Alternatively use the nearest phone or your mobile and dial 999.


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