Christmas Fire Safety: Tips & Advice

‘Tis the season to prioritise festive fire safety. The holiday season tends to bring a certain level of hustle and bustle to commercial, residential, and educational settings. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when the risk of fire hazards escalates in these environments.

Annually, Christmas trees and decorations contribute to fires that can result in injuries, while candles alone have been linked to over 1,000 fires in a single year. Being aware of how to prevent fires during the holiday season is crucial to ensuring smooth operations throughout the entire christmas period, safeguarding the well-being of all family, guests, employees, and site users.

Given the myriad concerns during this festive season and recognizing that complacency is a major indirect contributor to fire incidents, AVA Fire and Security is extending the gift of Christmas Fire Safety, offering valuable tips and advice.

 

Christmas Trees

Christmas trees, no matter how festive, are still trees. There’s a reason you put wood on your open fire and use it as a fuel source because it burns very well.

If you do not have a real tree at Christmas, make sure to purchase an artificial tree that is fire-retardant. It won’t prevent a fire completely but it definitely takes longer for the flames to catch and spread.

A Christmas tree in a room full of furniture has the potential of going up like a tinderbox if risks are not prevented and countered. Here are some of the ways you can control the risks facing your Christmas tree:

Make sure it’s fresh

If you’re choosing to buy a real tree this year, ensure that you don’t pick up an outdated one. Aged trees tend to be drier and more flammable. A strong green colour and a noticeable fragrance should be a good indication. To give it a check, tap it on the ground and make sure that only a few needles drop off.

Keep it watered

The fresh pine scent of a Christmas tree will lose its charm when it’s bare and stinks of smoke so it’s important to make your tree as fire-resistant as possible. Christmas trees can drink up to two pints of water daily and should be stood in a bucket of water to ensure they have constant access. This bucket should be frequently topped up.

So how does this make your tree more resistant to fire? A well-watered tree holds moisture which prevents a fast spread. It will still catch fire but it will take longer, meaning there’s more time to deal with the issue or escape.

Switch it off

We’ll cover more shortly about the risks that Christmas lights pose but it’s important to remember that you should never leave any source of heat unattended. The longer the lights are on, the more time they have to heat up and when no one is around, they should be switched off.

If you’re the forgetful type, consider investing in a Christmas light timer to make sure your lights get turned off every night. This can also help your electric bill be more of a nice list and help it not feel like coal in your stocking.

Keep flames at bay

Trees are flammable. Even a single spark on a dry tree can cause an inferno in less than a minute. You wouldn’t put a stack of A4 paper above a candle so why put a whole tree and a bunch of presents close by? Do you have an open fire? Use a fireguard to prevent embers from escaping.

Just give everything adequate space and treat a tree as what it is around open flames: a fuel.

Christmas decorations  

There’s a surprising amount of decorations that are made from flammable substances. Tissue paper, cardboard, card and wood are just some of them.

Never attach them to lights or heaters and keep them far away from candles. Make sure to not place decorations or greetings cards directly above or around the fireplace as this can pose a significant ignition threat.

Christmas lights

Christmas lights are one of the most popular decorations during the festive season. Domestic and commercial properties use them in equal measure to brighten up their premises but Christmas lights can pose a significant fire risk.

It should be noted that many of the risks highlighted below also apply for fairy lights.

Age

Many households and businesses store a box of Christmas decorations tucked away, only to be unearthed every December. Within this box lies an entanglement of Christmas lights, meters upon meters of wiring dating back to a time no one can quite pinpoint.

Aged and obsolete lights pose electrical safety risks and may be prone to faults. If these lights exhibit any signs of wear, or if their age is indeterminate, it’s advisable to contemplate investing in new lights that adhere to current safety standards and regulations.

Condition

Christmas lights are on for very long periods of time. Filaments heat up, glass shatters and overuse can cause overheating. This can cause trees to get overheated but often what causes the first spark is a fault with the lighting.

Make sure to check the wiring and condition of your decorations before hanging them anywhere. Damaged cords can also lead to electrical shorts and electric shocks that can cause life-changing burns. If your lights are damaged, throw them away.

Pets and wild animals can also cause damage to Christmas lights (indoors and outdoors) with curious teeth and claws. Not only can it cause animals electric shocks but it can also cause new issues over the period of time the lights are up, so make sure the check them frequently

Locations

Indoor lights are meant for the indoors. It’s not difficult and it’s usually very clearly marked on the packaging. While outdoor lights CAN be used inside, the same is not true the other way around as indoor lighting isn’t designed to face the elements.

You should also avoid hanging lights near potential fire hazards such as candles, heaters and fireplaces. Bulbs should also not be close to flammable materials.

Overloading

Overloading sockets is dangerous at any time of year but at Christmas, there’s usually a lot more than needs to be plugged in. Do not be tempted to overload sockets unsafely. Here are some top tips on safely using sockets:

  • Only use one socket extension lead per socket
  • Never plug an extension lead into another extension lead
  • Check the wattage of each individual appliance
  • Use a multiway bar extension lead rather than a block adaptor
  • Check sockets regularly for changes/overheating/marks

Check your fire safety equipment

Avoiding disaster is all about making sure you’re prepared. At Christmas, businesses and residential properties do have a lot to deal with so being confident about your fire safety equipment is key.

Ensure your fire alarms are tested regularly throughout the holiday season and always have a supply of batteries to make sure you’re not tempted to remove them from safety equipment.

Having working fire alarms and fire extinguishers on hand can be the difference between two very different outcomes this festive season and it’s always better to be prepared.

AVA Fire and Security wish you all very merry and safe festive season.

Get in touch today for a FREE no-obligation quote and site survey. Please give the team a ring on 01633 862177 or email us.

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