Fire Service urges Essex residents to think fire safety during the heatwave
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is asking the public to keep fire safety at the front of their minds during the heatwave.
The Service has had a busy few days dealing with wildfires and fires that have spread quickly due to the hot and dry weather.
Area Manager Neil Fenwick said: “Summer is a busy time for us and we need your help to prevent accidental fires. With the weather being so hot and dry, it’s much easier than usual for a fire to start.
“First of all, please do not have any bonfires or any campfires. Vegetation in fields and trees at the moment are dangerously dry and bonfires and campfires could quite easily spread into fields.
“Not only can they spread along the ground but they can spread quite easily through embers up in the air and travel great distances to be able to start elsewhere. We saw this on a few occasions over the weekend where embers from bonfires and barbecues that had not fully cooled had been picked up in the breeze and caught sheds, decking and even houses alight, making a couple of families homeless.
“If you do want to have a barbecue, please make sure you barbecue safely - set barbecues up well away from sheds, trees and fences etc and stay with your barbecue at all times until it has fully cooled.
“Please don't use disposable barbecues on the ground, the ground is just too dry at the moment and these can quickly turn into wildfires. Pack a picnic instead.”
With the risk of wildfires being high, the Fire Service is advising against using fireworks or sky lanterns as part of any celebrations.
Neil said: “Another big cause of fires in hot and dry weather is discarded cigarettes. These are often thrown out of windows or dropped on the floor without a thought but they can smoulder and catch the tinder dry grass alight quite quickly.
“Make sure all cigarettes are properly stubbed out before you dispose of them.”
“Lastly, we just want to make sure everyone is staying safe in and around water. Please be water aware this summer and don’t go out swimming alone. Always supervise children in and around water.
“While it can be tempting to cool off in water along the Essex coastline or in lakes or streams, please remember that cold water shock can be fatal. If you do start to struggle in the water, remember to float to live. Lay on your back with your arms and legs stretched out and float until the cold water shock passes.
“When you’re able to, swim back to the shore and shout for help. If you begin to struggle again, lay back again with your arms and legs stretched out and float.”
“Please stay safe out there and remember the fire crews and control staff that were working through this hot period to keep you safe.”
For more safety advice, visit: essex-fire.gov.uk/staysafe