Christmas Fire Safety

christmas tree with lights switched on

A Christmas fire can be devastating and most definitely ruin your celebrations. Insurers such as Direct Line Group report seeing an increase in fire claims during December, more than in any other month of the year.

At CPL t/a Rainbow International we see first hand the fire and smoke damage caused in both homes and commercial properties and so with this in mind, here are some tips to reduce the risk of Christmas fire and keep you and your family safe.

Christmas tree and balls
Christmas Tree With Lights

Candles A Cause Of Christmas Fire

As the popularity of candles has increased in recent years, sadly so too have the number of candle related incidents and the number of deaths from candle fires, according to the Fire Service. The London Fire Brigade reported “an average of 21 candle fires a month between February and October, this number rises dramatically to 29  fires a month during November, December and January”.

  • Never hang a lit candle from a Christmas tree, wreath or near other Christmas decorations.
  • Don’t leave a burning candle unattended – ensure it is extinguished before leaving the room.
  • Never leave a candle burning whilst asleep and before going to bed, make sure the candle is completely out.
  • Only put candles on heat resistant surfaces – a TV is not a fire-resistant surface.
  • Make sure the candle is stable and won’t fall over by placing in a candle holder designed and fitted for the candle itself.
  • Position the candle away from fabric/curtains or furniture and keep it away from drafts.
  • Keep candles out of reach of small children/pets.

Fairy Lights

More than 1 in 10 Brits are reported to leave their Christmas lights on when not at home according to a survey, commissioned by the makers of fire extinguisher Spray-Safe – so can Christmas tree lights cause a fire?

Some cheap lights on the market have been found to be unsafe. Last year Which? did a study of various brands and almost half of the Christmas lights on the market were deemed unsafe and highlighted that some may cause a Christmas lights fire.

Firstly, when purchasing Christmas tree lights, make sure they conform to the British Standard BS EN 60598 (The British Standard is a code of practice that is put in place to ensure the safety of the use of electrical goods) and have no visible signs of wear or tear, if in doubt don’t use them. Which? suggest purchasing Christmas tree lights from a reputable high street store or retailer rather than buying from online marketplaces.

So are LED Christmas lights a fire hazard?

If buying new lights try to go for LED options as they’re generally safer given they operate at a cooler temperature – although we would still always advise to turn the Christmas lights off before leaving the house or going to bed.

Whichever Christmas lights you chose, ensure they are not touching anything paper such as paper or cardboard decorations, as these can easily catch fire.

Christmas Trees

A fire can only take less than one minute to destroy a room from a real Christmas tree as shown as part of the Fire Kills campaign, so its location needs to be carefully chosen. Here are our tips to help you avoid being in that situation:

  • If a tree has been cut for too long it has probably dried out and a dry tree is a fire hazard. It is best not to put your real tree up too early as it should not be up for longer than 2 weeks and should be kept watered to try to prevent it from drying out. After 2 weeks, remove your tree from your home promptly.
  • Don’t place your tree next to a source of heat such as a fireplace or a heat vent. The heat will dry the tree out and make it more susceptible to being ignited by a spark, heat or flame.
  • Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or a wood burner. A real tree is best taken to a recycling centre or collected by a community Christmas tree pickup scheme.

We hope these tips help you to ensure you have a safe and Happy Christmas and New Year and don’t forget to check your smoke alarms!

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