Cooking is the 'Number One' cause of Scotland’s 5,000 accidental house fires a year.

The elderly are most at risk – in 2016/17, 52 per cent of house fire deaths were of people aged 60 and over.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) say many of the most serious fires leading to injury or death result from people cooking while under the influence of alcohol, or when they are over-tired.

Group Manager Gavin Hammond, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Head of Service Delivery for the Western Isles, said: “The fact is that for many years cooking has been the number one cause of house fires in Scotland.

“Weekends are often a peak time for fires involving cooking.

“Very often it is when people are tired or under the influence of alcohol a cooking fire results in someone being injured or killed.

“Our message is if you’re feeling hungry after a night-out don’t cook, consider buying pre-cooked food or prepare a cold snack instead.

“The risk of falling asleep is too high and too often we see the tragic results of someone falling asleep with the cooker on.”

SFRS issued this advice to stay safe while cooking:

  • Never walk away while you’re cooking. It’s easy to be distracted. Cooking fires only take a minute to start.
  • Take extra care if you suffer from any illness, disability or are taking prescribed medications that makes you careless or forgetful.
  • If you’re tired, have been drinking, or taking drugs, you will be less alert to the signs of fire and more likely to fall asleep.
  • Make sure your home has working smoke alarms.
  • Fit a heat alarm in the kitchen – they are specially designed and are not activated by smoke, preventing false alarms.

SFRS offers free home safety visits to help those most vulnerable to house fires.

Firefighters will identify any hazards, help develop an escape plan and supply and install smoke detectors for free.

In the last five years, a total of 50 men and 43 women over-60 have died in house fires.

"We are here to help everyone stay safe within the home but we are particularly keen to support the most vulnerable and elderly within our communities,” said Gavin Hammond.

"That is why we appeal to everyone to check if their elderly relatives, friends or neighbours are in need of this vital support – and to contact us directly."

To register for a Home Fire Safety Visit call the SFRS freephone number: 0800 0731 999, text ‘FIRE’ to 80800, or visit the website at firescotland.gov.uk.