Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is wishing the Sikh, Hindu and Jain communities a happy and safe Diwali when the festival of lights begins next week (6 - 10 November 2018).

While the manner of celebration varies between regions, the essence of Diwali remains the same and often involves fireworks, candles, earthenware oil lamps (Divas) and cooking special meals for family and friends.

KFRS group manager for community safety, Leanne McMahon, said: “This is an important time for many in our community and we want to make sure that the Diwali celebrations on the 30 October are not disrupted due to fire and that safety remains a priority.

“So if you are taking part in the festivities to mark this special time please take a few minutes to understand how accidental fires can be prevented. Both Divas and candles have the potential to spread to soft furnishings if not handled correctly, so make sure they are fully extinguished before leaving the room."

She added: "If you’re cooking with hot oil, only use the necessary amount and take the pan off the heat if you leave the kitchen.  I would also urge people to keep in mind that long hair, and traditional clothing such as saris, can be extremely flammable.

“It’s vital that all homes have working smoke alarms, that they are tested before the festival gets underway and that everyone knows how to get out safely in the event of a fire.”

Follow these safety tips to help enjoy a safe Diwali:

  • Use only enough ghee for a Diva to last your Puja and make sure that it rests securely on a heat resistant surface

  • Keep flames at a safe distance from curtains, furniture, decorations and loose clothing

  • When cooking with deep-fried food, dry it before you put it in the hot oil

  • Never fill the pan more than one third full of oil

  • Never throw water over a burning pan

  • Fit smoke alarms on each floor of your home and test them regular

  • Take extra care if using fireworks.

To find out about the free safe and well visits KFRS offers to your home and to get more advice on how to keep you, your family or a neighbour safe from fire call KFRS on 0800 923 7000 (free from landlines) or visit our safe and well pages.