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Fire Safety This Christmas Season

Going back to its earliest incarnations, Christmas and the surrounding holiday period has always been a time to invite light and warmth into the home. Though a great way to help banish thoughts of the freezing temperatures outside, the introduction of candles, electric Christmas lights and the like can present a very real danger if not properly respected.

So what are some of the key things to watch out for this holiday season?

Fairy Lights

Many of us choose to get into the Christmas mood by hanging coloured fairy lights, whether along the wall or wrapped around a Christmas tree. This is a great way of brightening up the home, but there are some important safety considerations to make:

  • Do the lights conform to British standard BS EN 60598 for approved use?
  • Are plug sockets overloaded to accommodate fairy lights? Remove excess plugs if so.
  • Remember to turn all lights off when going to bed or leaving the house. A timer switch is a good way to ensure they turn off after a certain hour in case you forget.
  • Make sure lights are not in contact with flammable materials, such as fabric curtains or paper decorations.

Cooking

With family and friends coming and going, it’s likely that many of us will be spending a fair few hours in the kitchen over the holidays. Kitchen fires are an ever-present danger, but the increased distraction of people in the home (plus the odd glass of chef’s wine!) could lead to cooking going unattended, or accidents occurring.

Decorations

With an open fire roaring, Christmas tinsel and other decorations immediately become fuel for a potential blaze. Ensure that all decorations are kept well clear of naked flames, as well as the heat from fairy lights and any additional heating appliances you may be running to keep the cold away.

As with fairy lights, candles create an instantly warming and Christmassy environment. Open flames must obviously be treated with caution, particularly with paper decorations and Christmas cards in close vicinity.

Take care if you have family over to visit, too: younger children may not be so careful when it comes to fire safety.

Christmas Trees

Whether real or fake, Christmas trees can be highly flammable. Take particular notice of trees that shed needles very easily – this could indicate an older, drier tree, which is a greater fire risk.

Fireworks

Fireworks form a big part of many of the celebrations that take place throughout winter, from Diwali to New Year’s Eve. The danger of unsafe firework use is well documented, but just to recap, here are a few of the main considerations:

  • Store unlit fireworks in a safe, metal tin or box, and keep away from naked flames.
  • Light fireworks with a taper at arm’s length.
  • Never return to a firework once lit.
  • Ensure that spectators stay well back.
  • Use only fireworks that conform to British standard BS 7114.

General Tips

The Christmas period is a great time to check that all smoke alarms within the home are in full working order, and that batteries haven’t gone flat. Check on elderly relatives and neighbours, following all of the above steps to ensure that their homes are safe from the increased threat of fire this Christmas.