A CRIME prevention charity is urging residents to put safety first in the sunshine.

OWL Cymru is asking people to remember the dangers of fires, especially during the summertime.

A spokesman for the charity said: "This month I am highlighting the dangers associated with some common summertime fires, as many residents may be spending more time out and about in the countryside or contemplating getting out their barbecues and dusting off their patio furniture.

"Fires can destroy acres of countryside During warmer weather, the grass and vegetation is generally dry, which means if you accidentally start a fire outdoors it can spread very quickly, destroying everything in its path. Add a light summer breeze to the equation and the fire will spread even more rapidly."

Barbecues should also be kept away from pets and children and ashes disposed of safely.

Safety items, such as cooling kits, are available to purchase from OWL Cymru.

The charity spokesman added: "Many will also be enjoying a few drinks out and about as well as at home in the garden during the lighter evenings – and I would urge that you avoid cooking after drinking, especially should you feel peckish after returning home after a night out.

"The best way to kill off the hunger pangs but stay safe yourself is to get a takeaway or prepare a sandwich before you go out. 20 incidents involving grass and gorse fires in one weekend over Easter, including a large mountain fire in Blaenau Ffestiniog where around 20 properties were evacuated.

"Many of these fires caused multiple calls to the emergency control room from concerned public. Each fire had the potential to tie up resources and prevent emergency services from attending other life threatening incidents elsewhere.

"A flicked cigarette from a car window, a barbecue that sets fire to a hedger, or a bonfire, burning garden waste left unattended could start a blaze that destroys acres of countryside crops and wildlife. If near to homes, it could destroy peoples properties, gardens endangering lives.

"Remember – deliberate grass fires are a serious crime and will be dealt with by the full force of the law. If you see anyone deliberately setting a fire, call the Police on 101."

More information can be found on the OWL Cymru website.