PEOPLE celebrating the Chinese New Year in north Kent have been urged to stay safe.

The Chinese year 4712 - the Year of the Horse - starts on Sunday, 31 January with festivities spanning up to two weeks.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service is encouraging people to be cautious because the risk of incidents occurring soars during celebrations such as these.

The service's partnership manager Pirthipal Kang said: "The New Year festivities are very special to Chinese communities because they represent a fresh start in life and bring fresh hopes for happiness and prosperity.

"The risk of fire can increase during major celebrations. People spend more time at home, cooking while entertaining, or celebrating the event with candles, fireworks and Chinese lanterns. 

"Following some simple safety tips may help reduce the risk of fire in your home and ensure you enjoy welcoming in the New Year safely."

For more information on fire safety, ring 0800 923 7000 or visit

Safety tips

• Fit working smoke alarms on every floor of your home and test them weekly.

• Treat fireworks with great caution and only buy those which comply with British Safety Standards.

• Think before you launch Chinese fire lanterns. They can come down early while the fuel for the lantern itself is still burning, sparking a blaze.

• Never leave candles burning unattended. Keep them out of reach of children and animals. Place candles in a proper holder and at a safe distance from curtains, furniture and decorations.

• Never leave cooking unattended.

• Avoid overloading electrical sockets.

• Make an escape plan to enable you and your family to leave your home safely.