Christmas is a time of year for open fires, candles, lots of fairy lights and Christmas trees. However, some festive decorations and traditions can also be responsible for house fires. Christmas is, unfortunately, when the number of fire hazards present in homes increases which can lead to not only casualties but widespread property damage. Knowing how to prevent fires at this time of year will ensure you, your family, your guests and your property are protected and safe.
Decorating a Christmas tree is a festive tradition that many families embrace at this time of year.
However, real Christmas trees are a huge fire hazard because wood is a fuel source for fire.
If you have bought an artificial tree, ensure it’s fire-retardant. This won’t prevent a fire but it will take longer for the flames to catch and spread.
When choosing a real tree, ensure it’s as fresh as possible because an older, drier one is more flammable.
Christmas tree care is also essential when it comes to how flammable your tree will be. Christmas trees drink up to two pints of water each day so should be stood in a bucket of water to ensure they can have a drink when they need to.
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Faux candles create the same effect as real ones so think about choosing LED ones as they are a lot safer.
Don’t run cables underneath carpets
Although tempting, do not run cables underneath rugs or carpets, even if you’ve run out of sockets on one side of the room.
When people walk over cables, this compresses and breaks down the cable’s insulation which can increase the fire risk.
The longer lights are on, the more time they will have to heat up. It’s important to never leave a heat source unattended, even lights so switch them off if you’re not around.
Invest in lights with a timer if you’re likely to forget they’re switched on.
Consider the age of your Christmas lights before using them this year. Many homes will have their Christmas lights hidden away somewhere for most of the year until they’re pulled out in December.
Most households will keep their Christmas lights tangled up in a ball inside a box and won’t be able to pinpoint the year they bought them.
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Old Christmas lights can be electrically unsafe and faulty. If you can’t remember when you bought your lights, it may be time to invest in some new ones.
Also, look at the condition of your lights before using them. If some of the filaments are shattered or there are damaged shorts, this could cause a fire.
Don’t overload electrical outlets
Electrical circuits can only handle a limited amount of electricity. If you exceed the rated load of the circuit wiring, the circuit breaker could trip shutting off the power to the entire circuit.
Lots of Christmas lighting like fairy lights can add to the fire risk unless the circuit is used properly. Make sure extension cables are used correctly to stop this from happening.
Ensure only one socket extension lead is used per socket and never plug an extension lead into another one.
Also, check the wattage of each individual appliance and use a multiway bar extension lead rather than a block adaptor.
Sockets loaded with Christmas lights should be checked regularly for changes such as overheating or marks.
Experts at Heatingforce.co.uk collaborated with Alex Ions to get some tips on how to stay safe this festive season.
Alex said: “Christmas should be a fun time of year that allows for the creation of a festive space in your home.
“However, it is important to ensure safety is also put at the forefront. To avoid problems, you shouldn’t hang decorations near candles, fireplaces, Christmas lights, or radiators.
“Your garland may look like it’s safe above your fireplace but it may accidentally fall down or an ember could catch onto it causing a fire risk.
“It is also sensible to minimise decorations in your kitchen. To decrease the danger of a fire starting, keep decorations well away from hobs.
“When in the kitchen preparing food, you should ensure that you are focussing on what you are doing as it is easy to become distracted by conversation, particularly when you have guests round for Christmas.
“This seems like a given but can be forgotten when you are in the grips of entertaining and eager to serve up food, but make sure you turn everything off. Perhaps most importantly, test your fire alarm.”