5 tips to help you think about fire safety and avoid a tragedy this Christmas
Christmas is a time for relaxing, celebrating and spending time with family. Sadly it is also a very flammable time of year given many of the things we enjoy over the Christmas period, such as the fairy lights, candles, lots of cooking mixed with perhaps a merry drink or two can all lead to neglecting fire safety within your home.
Did you know that typically, more fatalities caused by accidental fires occur in the December/January period than any other time of the year. In 2002 ( the latest statistics availble) 1,000 people were estimated to have visited A&E in the UK after home accidents invovling Christmas trees and 350 people after home accidents involving Christmas Lights.Source: Home Accident Surveillance System 2002.
We at CPL see first hand the fire and smoke damage caused in both homes and commercial properties and so with this in mind, let’s take a look at some top tips for the holidays, to keep you and your family safe this Christmas.
Take a look at this video produced as part of the Fire Kills Campaign showing how left on Christmas Tree lights started a fire that engulfed the living room within 1 minute
Some key things to bear in mind with Christmas tree fire safety is :
- Real trees pose a higher fire risk than artificial trees given real trees can often dry out making them more flammable. If you do choose a real tree remember real trees come with real responsibility – be sure it water it often ( a 6ft tree can drink up to two pints of water daily) to avoid it drying out.
- Make sure you choose the location of your Christmas tree carefully. Never place it beside sources of open flame or heat. So whilst beside your open fire might look good you are seriously increasing it’s risk of catching fire.
- Paper or cardboard decorations can catch fire and burn easily so avoid decorating your tree with these type of decorations.
There is no better time to adorn your house with twinkling lights than over the festive period. However according to the Fire Kills Campaign they pose a great risk to fire safety : “A house fire, most likely sparked by faulty Christmas tree lights, envelopes a living room in a shocking 46 seconds.”
Fairy lights caused 20 fires, while Christmas trees, deocrations and cards were also a fire risk and responsible for 47 house fires, leading to 20 non-fatal casualties, across the UK.Source 2011/12 Fire Statistics Great Britain from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
- Firstly, make sure your Christmas tree lights 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 just throw them out!
- A lot is going on at Christmas, which is why it is crucial to remember not to overload your plug sockets as this can be 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 all lights off before leaving the house or going to bed for that extra peace of mind.
As the festive season creeps in, so does our love and use of candles. Candles, while a lovely Christmas accessory, can pose the greatest risk due to the open flame.
Candles sparked around 1,000 UK house fires, resulting in nine deaths and 388 casualties, in 2011/12.Source : 2011/12 Fire Statistics Great Britain from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
- Electric flame candles are a much safer, and often as effective, option than open-flame candles.
- Ensure lit candles are placed in candle holders designed and fitted for the candle itself and they are burned out of reach of small children or pets.
- Never hang lit candle from a Christmas tree, wreath or near other Christmas decorations.
Did you know that most fires start in the kitchen?
It only takes a forgotten five minutes for your dinner to become engulfed in flames and set fire to the surrounding area! This is obviously the time of year where there is typically extra food preparation and the stress and busyness of Christmas can lead to absent mindedness and neglect to fire safety within the kitchen.
Some key things to remember whilst cooking at Christmas:
- Never leave cooking unattended in the kitchen – always stay within the same room.
- Ensure children are kept away from cooking and naked flames at all times within the kitchen.
- Never cook under the influence of alcohol.
- Make sure you tuen off and unplug all cooking appliances after use.
Make a Fire Escape Plan
Now we recognise this is not the most festive plan you’ll make this Christmas period but making and knowing a fire escape plan is one of the most important elements of fire safety and can without doubt save your life. Don’t forget over Christmas there are often extra people staying in the house. Make a clear plan so if the worst does happen you know you’re prepared.
- Always ensure your smoke alarms are tested weekly and batteries are fully functional.
- Double check your fire blankets are in good condition and fire extinguishers are operational.
- Make sure that the additional decorations you’ve added to your home at Christmas time don’t block or obstruct your fire escape routes.
For more information on general fire safety click here
We at CPL wish you a safe and happy Christmas.