More than 500 accidental house fires were recorded across Scotland during the festive season last year, according to new figures.
A total of 509 incidents were recorded between 10 December 2018 and 14 January 2019, with 91 casualties – 37 of whom were aged 60 or over.
The figure is down slightly from the previous year – 528 incidents between 11 December 2017 and 15 January 2018 – but still higher than the 486 incidents recorded from 12 December 2016 to 16 January 2017.
According to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), the increase in house fires during the festive period is typically caused by a higher use of heating and electrical appliances.
It added that increased alcohol consumption, decorations and the traditional use of candles can also play a part in raising the risk of fire.
Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart, SFRS director of prevention and protection, said: “Ultimately, we want people to remember the festive period for all the right reasons.
“When our firefighters have to attend a fire in someone’s house at Christmas time, and we enter a house which is burning but full of Christmas presents and decorations, it’s heartbreaking.
“But, unfortunately, the festive period sees potentially deadly combinations come together – increased use of electricity, drinking alcohol and cooking, decorations being put up near heat sources.
“It’s all too easy to think that it will never happen to you – but it can. That’s why we are appealing to communities across Scotland – don’t let Christmas end, or your new year start, with tragedy.”
The figures were highlighted as the SFRS launched its winter safety campaign yesterday, including a national television advert highlighting the dangers of cooking while under the influence of alcohol.
Mr Haggart added: “When it comes to celebrating, please do not drink, then attempt to cook. Cooking remains the number one cause of house fires in Scotland and often alcohol is a contributing factor, especially during this period.
“Consider making something beforehand and have it prepared, or wait until you are no longer affected by alcohol.”
Community safety minister Ash Denham said: “While we want people to be able to celebrate and relax over the festive period, it is extremely important that they also keep themselves and others safe.”