Stay safe this Christmas

At Christmas we all look forward to unpacking our prized collection of baubles and festive decorations. But while you’re enjoying the twinkly lights and soft glow of a candle, let us enlighten you with some useful fire safety tips.

Deck the halls

Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant and keep them away from heat sources, windows and doors. Avoid decorations made of tissue, paper or cardboard as they burn easily. If your kids have made their own, and you don’t want to disappoint them, just make sure you hang them away from lights, candles and fires.

The big switch on

Fairy lights around the home add that magical touch to Christmas, but they can also be a fire hazard if they’re not installed wisely. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure you use indoor lights inside and outdoor lights outside – sounds obvious but they can easily be confused
  • Check that all electrical cords are intact with no cracked wires or broken plugs
  • Make sure the fuses are the right type (check the box for info)
  • If bulbs blow, replace them
  • Don’t leave fairy lights on when you go out or when you go to sleep
  • Don’t let the bulbs touch anything that can burn easily, like paper
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets

LED lights are the best choice. That’s because they’re shatterproof, shock resistant, and produce almost no heat – making them safe to touch and reducing the risk of fire.

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

For some of us, having a live tree that fills the home with a woody scent is a big part of Christmas. But if you do go for a real one, you should take some special precautions; a burning tree can quickly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.

Choosing a tree

Always go for a freshly cut tree. If the tree has been cut for a while, it’s probably dried out and is more of a fire hazard. You can check for its freshness by making sure the needles are green and hard to pull back from the branches. The trunk should be sticky to the touch.

Caring for your tree

If you cut two inches from your tree before potting it, it will be able to take water up to the needles to delay drying out. If you’re keeping your tree in a base with a water reservoir, top it up regularly. Similarly, don’t put your tree close to a radiator, heater or fireplace.

Disposing of your tree

Ideally, don’t leave your tree up for longer than two weeks. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling centre or having it taken away by a community pickup service. Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove.

Artificial trees

Artificial trees are a cost-effective alternative to live trees and some of them look just as good as the real thing. When buying an artificial tree, look for the BSI (British Standards Institution) Kitemark to ensure a good level of fire safety. Don’t put them close to heat sources or naked flames.

A note about candles

  • Don’t leave them unattended – put them out when you leave the room and long before bedtime
  • Put them on a stable surface, out of the reach of pets and children, and keep them away from curtains, furniture, bedding and books
  • Don’t move candles once they’re lit.
  • Place them away from draughts, vents or air currents
  • Put them out with a snuffer or spoon as sparks can fly if you blow them out
  • Always put scented candles in a heat-resistant holder as they turn to liquid when heated to maximise fragrance

More safety tips...

  • Before going to bed, switch off electrical items and shut doors
  • If you live in a flat, make sure rubbish bags are small enough to fall down the refuse chute and into the bins – blocked chutes are a fire hazard
  • Don’t leave any items of waste or furniture in communal areas

Test your smoke alarms - they could save your life!

If you want advice about fire safety in your home, contact your local fire service or visit Alternatively, ring our fire officers on 0330 100 0272.