The Chinese New Year begins on Monday (February 8) and will see The Year of the Monkey celebrated among many communities.
The New Year represents a major event in the Chinese calendar which brings large families together for traditional celebrations, often focused around food and dance.
Firefighter Tony Wan, who works at Hunslet Fire Station, was born in West Yorkshire but is of Chinese heritage. He is urging people to enjoy the social time of year and use it as an opportunity to ensure everything is in place to keep people safe for the year ahead. He said: “The Chinese New Year is often a time when it’s out with the old and in with the new. If you are spring cleaning your home, take a moment to reflect on whether you have working smoke alarms fitted on every floor.
“New Year celebrations traditionally culminate in a lantern festival. Whilst we don’t wish to put a dampener on festivities, the fire service does not advise that people light lanterns as they can be a fire risk should they fall back to earth whilst still ignited. “They can also pose environmental hazards and potential harm to livestock should animals eat debris which falls to the ground. “If you are planning on cooking up a treat for a gathering also take heed of our top cooking safety tips as most fires in the home start in the kitchen. Also make sure that any lit candles are in proper holders, away from any combustible items. “We wish everyone a very happy and safe New Year or Kung Hei Fat Choy!”
Fireworks and the law
Chinese bangers and Chinese crackers are banned in the UK.
You can’t buy adult fireworks under 18.
Fireworks must not be set off after 1am on Chinese New Year.
You can only buy fireworks, including sparklers, from registered sellers for private use three days before Chinese New Year. However, there’s are a small number of specialist firework retailers in West Yorkshire who hold an additional license and can therefore sell fireworks all year round.
Category 4 fireworks can only be used by a professional.
For more information on the law see www.gov.uk/fireworks-the-law
Always ensure candles are safely out of reach of children and animals.
Ensure lit candles are kept at a safe distance from soft furnishings, loose clothing and hair.
Place candles on a heat resistant surface and be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which can get hot enough to melt plastic.
Put candles in a proper non-combustible holder so they don’t fall over.
Put candles out with a snuffer or a spoon – sparks can fly if you blow them out.
Trading Standards has a Sky Lanterns Industry Code of Practice which can be viewed online. WYFRS also has a leaflet on sky lanterns which can be found on our website.
Make sure there is at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home.
Test your smoke alarms by pushing the button every month.
Check that your smoke alarms are less than 10 years old.
Fit smoke alarms on landings, hallways and near bedrooms. Also consider placing them in rooms which have an electrical appliance, such as a heater. However, beware of fitting a smoke alarm in locations where it will be falsely triggered, for example, by a toaster or steam from a shower.
Take a moment to check on your loved ones who may require help to ensure they are fully protected.
Don’t be distracted when cooking and never leave cooking unattended.
Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
Don’t cook when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you have any concerns book a free Home Fire Safety Check online via our website
www.westyorksfire.gov.uk or call 0800 5874536. Alternatively pop into year nearest fire station to make arrangements. For more safety tips follow us on Twitter @West_Yorks_FRS or see our official Facebook page www.facebook.com/westyorkshire.