London Fire Brigade bosses are reminding partygoers to call a locksmith, not 999, if they lose their keys over the festive season.
Over the last four years the Brigade attended 28,712 callouts from people who were locked in or out of their homes, calls it says cost taxpayers almost £10 million.
Of the 6,947 calls received in 2012/13, almost half weren’t deemed to be emergencies.
Brigade bosses say householders should contact a locksmith unless there’s a genuine risk of a fire.
Third Officer Dave Brown said: “We’re urging everyone to take care with their keys and this is something we’re particularly concerned about with the Christmas party season upon us.
“If you’re planning on having a few Christmas sherries, we’ d urge you to leave a key with a friend or neighbour, rather than risk calling 999 and wasting emergency service time.
”If there is a risk of a fire, it’s a real emergency, or you can’t get to a young child inside, then we will come and help. But ringing just because you don’t want to pay for a locksmith is not good enough.”
The Brigade is also warning that it may be unable to attend non-emergency calls on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve when Fire Brigades Union members will be on strike.
The Union is in dispute with the UK Government over proposed reforms to pensions.
Members will strike between 1900-0000 on Christmas Eve and 1830-0030 on New Year’s Eve, as well as 0630-0830 on January 3rd.