Christmas is a time of excess – as we happily tuck into mince pies, and perhaps enjoy the odd sherry or three. It’s also a time when we can go mad with decorations and no home is Christmas ready until it looks like an army of elves have thrown up fairy lights, tinsel and plastic baubles throughout your home. But whilst you nurture your expanding waistline and marvel at your decorating prowess, be aware of the fire hazards that are lurking behind that twinkly façade.
We don’t want to be humbugs, but Christmas festivities come with some inherent fire risks. Fairy lights are a Christmas staple but they’re responsible for about 1 in 3 Christmas tree fires . It might sound dramatic (after all, they’re just fairy lights) but how old are the lights you deck your tree with? The older they are, the higher the chance of loose or frayed wires and dodgy bulbs are greater. If you fancy a new set, the latest trend in LED lights can help to reduce the risks. And always make sure you use lights designed for the great outdoors if you’re planning on decorating the outside of your house.
Make sure your fairy lights have a safety mark such as the British standards kitemark and always buy them from a reputable store – now is not the time to get a bargain from a dodgy supplier.
But it’s not just the sparkly lights, overloaded plug sockets are also a fire risk, especially if you’ve got lots of friends and family staying and the race is on to keep everyone’s phone or tablet charged.
Speaking of tablets, with gadgets on the top of everyone’s Christmas list, it can be tempting to try to save money by buying unofficial chargers. However, it’s just not worth the risk; fire brigades warn that these devices could cause a fire. According to the charity Electrical Safety First, many cheap chargers would fail to meet the requirements of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations Act 1994 , and represent a significant fire risk in your home. So it’s a good idea to spend a few extra pennies and buy the real deal.
Unsurprisingly, the kitchen is filled with fire hazards too and at Christmas, those hazards can be even greater as we rush around trying to prepare a family feast. Using oven gloves? Watch where you put them – it’s easy to get distracted and chuck them near the stove where they could catch a flame. And if you decide to flambé the Christmas pudding, then mind where those flames go.
Nothing says Christmas more than warm and welcoming candles, but they also cause 40% of ‘home decoration’ fires so always make sure you blow them out at the end of the day and never leave a burning candle unattended.
Don’t forget the batteries either – always keep a stock of them so that you’re not tempted to take them out of the smoke alarm. Needless to say, you should also double check that the ones inside the smoke alarm actually work.
Christmas is for family, fun and festivities and we want to help you keep it that way. So, stay safe and secure this Christmas and don’t leave your common sense at the bottom of the sherry bottle. And for those unforeseen accidents? Well, it’s about being prepared and planning for the unknown as well as making sure you’ve got your home insurance sorted. The last thing you want to do is to personally re-enact the whole staying in a stable bit of the Christmas story, so make it a Christmas to remember…for all the right reasons.