With the build-up to Christmas gathering momentum, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service hopes fire safety features prominently on your festive to-do list.
Decorations, cards, wrapping paper and Christmas trees can all act as extra fuel for a fire sparked by candles, overheated sockets, faulty fairy lights or cigarettes. The risks increase when you add cooking, drinking, parties and guests into the mix.
A short video that can be viewed here from the national 'Fire Kills' campaign shows in graphic detail how a fire caused by faulty decorations can take hold in well under a minute.
Stills from the video, illustrating how the situation can change dramatically in the space of just a few seconds, are pictured above.
Joanne Cook, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said:
“Although fire safety is vital at every time of year, the extra distractions of Christmas make it especially important to be vigilant throughout December.
“Festive celebrations bring extra fire risks into the home, including cooking and entertaining in a crowded house, and slower reaction times if you are drinking alcohol.
“There are also the potential dangers of overloaded plug sockets, heaters, flammable decorations and unattended candles.
“We're asking people to be aware of the risks and to make a few simple checks, so that everyone can enjoy a happy and safe Christmas.”
Here's some seasonal advice to help you celebrate in safety:
- Ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed on all levels of your home. Test your smoke alarms every month and never remove working batteries.
- Check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas and offer to test their smoke alarms.
- Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen, so this is a high risk area. Avoid cooking while under the influence of alcohol, 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, wrapping paper, fires, lights and heaters.
- If you smoke, make sure cigarettes are fully extinguished, and take extra care if you are tired or have had a drink. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight.
- Don't block exits with Christmas trees, presents or rearranged furniture.
- 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, such as freezers.
- Switch off Christmas lights and unplug them before you go out or go to bed. Check your lights have the CE marking.
- Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment. It instantly switches off the power if there is a fault and can be found in DIY stores.
- Never use heaters to dry clothes. Heaters can start fires when things are placed too close to them. Keep them well away from curtains, clothing, furniture and decorations.
- In the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999. Make sure everyone staying with you over Christmas knows what to do in an emergency.