WITH fires lit, cooking more common and electricity in greater use due to the likes of lights on trees, Christmas is a time when you need to be most aware of fire risks.
Undoubtedly, Christmas is a time of celebration and joy but some of peoples’ favourite festive traditions such as cooking Christmas dinner, decorating the home and enjoying a drink could have the potential to leave Yuletide celebrations in ruins.
The distractions of a crowded house and celebrations can often result in festive cooking being left unattended. And the added influence of alcohol means that it’s even more important to stay alert while preparing your turkey.
Most house fires in December are caused by cooking appliances and they can spread quicker too due to the manner in which your home is laid out over the festive period.
No Christmas would be complete without a few decorations but the fact that dry Christmas trees, flammable decorations and stray wrapping paper will be in abundance can act as extra fuel for a fire sparked by any number of things including overheated sockets, faulty fairy lights, unattended candles or carelessly discarded cigarettes.
A recent survey showed that a surprising number of people leave their Christmas tree lights plugged in when they’re out of the house and there are several other potential risks, which people almost take for granted at this time of year.
With that in mind here are a few handy tips to ensure your Christmas doesn’t go up in flames:
- Ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed on all levels of your home. A working alarm can give you the vital time needed to escape in a fire. Test your smoke alarms regularly and never remove batteries to power presents!
- Check on older relatives and neighbours to ensure their safety as they are at greater risk from fire.
- Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high-risk area. Avoid cooking whilst drunk and always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.
- Never leave candles unattended. Keep candles out of the reach of children, and away from decorations, cards and wrapping paper, fires, lights and heaters.
- If you smoke, put your cigarette out, right out. Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished and take care when drunk or tired. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight.
- Don’t overload sockets – ensure only one plug per socket. Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.
- Ensure you switch off fairy lights and unplug them before you go to bed, or leave the house.
- Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment. This safety device – which works in a similar way to a circuit breaker – can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault and can be found in any DIY store.
- Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire – in the event of fire: get out, stay out and call the fire brigade.