THE FIRE service has urged Worcester residents to be careful when cooking, after crews were called to a number of kitchen fires over the festive period.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is warning people to make sure they have switched off all cooking appliances after they have used them and to keep an eye on their cooking at all times.

Station Commander Alan Haley from the Community Risk department said: "Nearly half of all house fires the service attends start in the kitchen and we would remind people to keep an eye on their cooking at all times and to be sure that books, magazines, tea-towels and any flammable items are kept well away from the stove."

A variety of advice has been issued by HWFRS, including: keep your cooker and grill pan clean as burnt food and fat causes fires; turn off all electrical appliances and pull out the plugs when not using them; drinking alcohol and cooking can be dangerous; do not use a toaster under a cupboard; never fill a chip pan more than a third full and stay with it all the time; and do not leave washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers switched on when you leave the house or go to bed.

Station Commander Haley also stressed the importance of having smoke alarms installed on every level of your home and testing them on a weekly basis.