Fire Safety at Christmas
In December 2011 there were 2834 accidental fires throughout the UK, more than any other month of the year. Fire experts believe a large proportion of this increase is due to the extra fire risks presented by Christmas and, in particular, Christmas decorations. Dry Christmas trees, colourful decorations and an abundance of wrapped presents are all extra fuel for a potential fire within your home and this, coupled with the extra candles and fairy lights on display, can, if you’re not careful, result in disaster.
So in order to ensure Christmas is a time for celebration, and not tragedy, the experts at Scutum Group have compiled the top Christmas fire safety tips to make sure you, your family and your home are as protected during the festivities as possible…
Firstly, before putting up and plugging in your fairy lights, it is very important that you check the fuses are the right type – you should check the box for details on the maximum size of fuse you should use. You should also check that your lights conform to the British Standard BS EN 60598 and this should be similarly be printed on the box.
When putting up your fairy lights it is vital to make sure they are not near to or touching anything flammable, such as paper and fabrics. Finally, it is crucial that you always switch off your fairy lights and unplug them before going to bed or leaving the house.
A lot of decorations are made of light tissue paper and cardboard and, as we all know, these are the kinds of materials which burn the easiest – and the fastest! Therefore, it is very important to consider exactly where you are placing these kinds of decorations. Never attach them to lights or heaters and keep them far away from candles. It is also recommended that you never place decorations or greetings cards immediately above or around the fireplace as this can pose a significant ignition threat.
Extensions and sockets…
During the Christmas period it is likely that your sockets will be getting much more use than normal. Fairy lights, plug in decorations and window adornments are all going to need electrical power, but it is vital that you don’t overload your sockets or use too many extension cables. Make sure you check the wattage of each individual appliance and use chords which correspond appropriately. It is also exhaustively recommended by fire safety professionals that you only have one plug per socket.
If you are using outdoor Christmas lights to decorate the exterior of your home, it is advised that you use a RCD (residual current device) as this equipment can instantly switch off the power in the event of a fault. This safety device is incredibly beneficial and can be found in any DIY or home ware store.
Careful fire safety measures should be taken with your Christmas tree – especially if you are buying a real one! A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases so it is crucial that, if you are having a fresh tree this year, it should be kept thoroughly watered.
When selecting your tree, one of the best tips is to check the needles. If the tree has been freshly cut the needles should be hard to pull back from the branches and should not break. If they do, it has probably been cut down too long ago and dried out – making it a fire hazard.
Whether your tree is real or artificial, it should never be placed close to a heat source, such as fireplaces, lights and heat vents, and you should also take care when placing lights and decorations on to the tree.
Check your fire safety equipment…
It is vital that you protect your family, friends and guests with fully-functioning, well maintained fire protection equipment. Properly installed fire alarms and fire extinguishers can literally be the difference between life and death and the Christmas festivities are definitely not a time to become less relaxed with your fire safety procedures. In fact, with the extra risks present it is crucial you are even more vigilant during this period.
The professionals within the fire safety industry recommend thoroughly checking your fire alarms and ensuring your fire extinguishers are functioning properly. You can either do this yourself or hire an expert to perform an exhaustive maintenance check for you for your complete peace of mind. Any faults or dysfunctions should be instantly remedied or, in the event of this not being possible, new equipment should be installed.
Christmas is definitely a time for celebration but is also – without sounding like scrooges – a particularly dangerous period within your home. However, all it takes is a little extra care and a little more focus to completely safeguard your home and your family from the dangers of fire. Simply follow our tips above! And for more information, or to enquire about the servicing and installation of fire alarms or fire extinguishers, give the experts at Scutum Group a call today!
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