Fire safety message pitched at campers in Scotland as number of grass fires increased last summer during Covid-19 pandemic
Fire service chiefs are advising campers on how to prevent avoidable fires in the Scottish countryside this summer, as it emerged the number of grass fires more than doubled last summer in some parts of the country.
Warmer weather and the increased numbers of people visiting rural areas as pandemic restrictions ease creates a greater risk of fire.
Tips from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) include to avoid using candles in tents and to never leave camp fires unattended.
The advice comes as new data shows the number of fires affecting grassland, woodland or crops more than doubled in some parts of Scotland between June 22 and August 24 last summer compared to the same period in 2019.
A nationwide increase of nine percent was recorded - 712 compared to 656 incidents - with figures going up across Argyll and Bute, East and West Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, Midlothian and Scottish Borders, Edinburgh, Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Fife, as well as Aberdeen City.
A year on year rise of 39 percent - 59 to 82 incidents - was recorded in Edinburgh while in East Lothian, Midlothian and the Borders there was a five percent rise - 42 to 46 incidents. In Aberdeenshire and Moray, the number of incidents soared from 27 to 65 - a 140 percent rise.
Many outdoor fires are started deliberately or are due to careless or irresponsible behaviour.
Deputy assistant chief officer Alasdair Perry, SFRS head of prevention and protection, said: “We want people to enjoy spending time outdoors, but it’s important to create a safe environment for you, your loved-ones and the surrounding environment because even small fires have the potential to turn into a wildfire.
“Before lighting any outdoor fires, check for any restrictions or permissions required by the landowner and make sure you use a fire safe pit or container that can be properly extinguished before you leave.
“The vast majority of us wish to keep our country beautiful, but litter can seriously injure wildlife and items such as glass bottles in strong sunlight have the potential to start a fire.
“Remember to keep your area tidy and always clear up when done.”
DACO Perry highlighted that fires can destroy tents quickly and advised using torches instead of candles.
He also urged people to never take a portable or disposable barbecue inside a tent to cook or to use a heat source because carbon monoxide is a potential risk, and said gas barbecues should be used in well-ventilated areas.
Those choosing to go away in caravans for a staycation are also reminded to have a working smoke alarm fitted.
A fire in a caravan or mobile home spreads much more quickly than it would in a house or flat and there are on average nearly 100 caravan fires in Scotland every year.
Summer also brings with it the temptation to swim outdoors but lochs, rivers and reservoirs also pose a risk to those enjoying nature. Cold water shock can leave people gasping for breath and it’s potentially fatal. The SFRS advice is to avoid unsupervised waterways.
SFRS also asked people to remember to switch off electrical appliances before setting off for an extended period this summer.
More safer summer advice can be found online HERE.