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Festive fire hazards and how to avoid them

Festive fire hazards and how to avoid them

Eat, drink and be merry at Christmas, but whatever you do don’t forget to snuff out the candles and switch off the tree lights.

Statistics from the Department of Local Government show that candles, fairy lights and decorated Christmas trees caused well over 1,000 fires, resulting in nine deaths and nearly 400 casualties, over the latest Christmas period measured.


‘Elf and safety tips

Here are the ‘elf and safety measures you should follow to keep your family and friends safe in your home this December:


Fairy lights

Faulty, over-heating fairy lights are a major cause of fires. Check yours have the British Standard’s kitemark, indicating they’re safe. Look for loose connections and frayed wires.

Don’t let the bulbs touch flammable materials such as wrapping paper.



Blow out candles when you leave the house or go to bed! Candles are an even more common source of fires than fairy lights.

Place candles in proper holders and try not to bunch them together as this generates much more heat. And, of course, keep them away from the Christmas tree and other material that burns easily.


Decorations: Bunting and tinsel

Many decorations are a hazard when near flames as they’re often made of tissue paper, cardboard or thin plastic which sets alight easily.

Be careful not to place them on or above fireplaces, heaters, wood burning stoves or cookers. Definitely don’t place candles among a Christmas tree’s branches.


Christmas trees

Christmas trees can get extremely dry and will burn furiously once lit.

Try and buy a fresh, green tree with needles that aren’t falling off easily and always keep the tree-stand filled with water. Don’t leave the tree up longer than a couple of weeks.

Don’t place yours near a source of heat, and only place fairy lights around it that are have the ‘British Standard’ kitemark and which are clearly labelled as fire-retardant.


Electrical sockets

It’s very common to have lots of electrical items plugged in at Christmas, often using extension leads or triple plugs.

However, different items use up different amounts of power, so using every socket in an extension can be dangerous. The golden rule is never to plug in to one lead or socket appliances which together use more than 3,000 watts of energy.


Smoke alarms

Well before the Christmas holiday starts you should check that all smoke alarms are in good working order and that batteries, if used, are fully charged.

If you don’t have any fire alarms, get them fitted fast. They’re not expensive and easy to fit.


Lighters and matches

Keep all lighters and matches very much out of the reach of children and in a safe place, preferable locked.



If you are going to set off fireworks, always follow the rules indicated and make sure they’re made to the ‘British Standard’ (look for the kitemark).



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Published 22nd November 2018