Please put fire safety on your Christmas list

Mon 2 Dec, 2013

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Firefighters are urging people to put fire safety on their Christmas lists while they prepare for the festive season.

Christmas trees, decorations, cards and wrapping paper 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 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.

Neil Boustred, 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.

“Festive celebrations bring extra fire risks into the home, including the distractions of a crowded house while cooking, slower reaction times that result from alcohol consumption, and the potential dangers of overloaded plug sockets, flammable decorations and unattended candles.

“We're just 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 weekly and never remove batteries to power presents. Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service will carry out a free home safety check, fitting free smoke alarms where needed. Book one by ringing 01296 744477 or emailing
  • Check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas to ensure their safety.
  • 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 your cigarette is 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 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 fairy lights and unplug them before you go out or go to bed. Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598).
  • 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.
  • In the event of fire, get out, stay out and call 999. Make sure everyone staying with you over Christmas knows what to do in an emergency.