From candles to trees, Christmas can be one of the most dangerous times of the year for fire. Official UK fire statistics show house fires are most common in December and consequently, insurers receive more fire claims in December than any other month.
A little preparation and planning can help you avoid having your holidays and home ruined during the festive season. Here are some of the fire risks you’ll want to pay extra attention to during the Christmas period, and some tips for keeping your home safe from harm.
Christmas tree fires
Christmas trees are one of the biggest causes of house fires at Christmas. To avoid the risk of a Christmas tree fire, keep your tree in an open area away from any heat sources and be extra careful if lighting candles close by.
When it comes to choosing a tree, go for a fresh tree with a healthy green appearance. Avoid picking a tree with dry and browning needles.
Christmas light fires
If you’re hanging lights outside, make sure they’re suitable for outdoor use and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid using extension cables intended for indoor use and make sure all leads and connections are kept well above ground. Do not trail leads through puddles, snow, or across paths where they’re likely to get trodden on.
Inside the house, make sure all lights are marked with a British safety standard and are free from damage. Lights stored in the attic for 11 months can easily become worn, so it’s important to check them over before plugging them in. Overloading plug sockets can also pose a very real fire risk to your home, so don’t plug too many things in at once.
And finally, avoid leaving Christmas lights switched on around the clock. According to research by Zurich UK, 3 million households leave Christmas tree lights on while out or asleep at night.
Christmas candle fires
If you’re using candles at Christmas, make sure you take extra care to use them safely. Blow out candles before leaving the house or going to bed and make sure you only light them in open, visible spaces. If you have children around, it might be best to leave the candles up high so small hands can’t grab them.
Whether you hang your Christmas cards on the wall or display them on a shelf, make sure they’re kept well away from candles, fireplaces and other objects that could start a fire. It only takes one card falling down in a breeze to set a whole house alight.
If in doubt, avoid using candles altogether. LED, flameless candles offer a much safer alternative to real candles and will keep flickering for much longer than the real version too!
Kitchen appliances account for more than half of house fires in the UK. Even if you’re always careful when cooking, it’s easy to get distracted during festive celebrations, especially if you’re hosting guests in your home. However busy your house gets, never leave the cooking unattended, and avoid taking charge of the cooking while under the influence of alcohol.
Test your smoke alarms
Before the Christmas season begins, make sure your smoke alarms are working properly. Doing so could save lives should anything happen during the holidays. Never take your smoke alarms down or remove the batteries to use in toys, decorations or other gadgets around the home – your life is much more important.
Follow the advice outlined here so that you have a safe – as well as a very merry – festive season. For more Christmas fire safety tips, take a look at www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-tips-for-christmas.