There’s nothing like warming frosty hands in front of a roaring fire in the dead of winter. Many treasured Christmas memories are set to the backdrop of lighting candles, hanging up fairy lights, or decorating Christmas trees.
But in this busy time of year, we at Ayrton Group have noticed that safety around fire and electrics is often overlooked in favour of a quick “ah, it’ll be grand” solution. It’s our job to notice these things, afterall!
Since we’re serious about safety, our experts have made a list (and checked it twice!) of seven things you can do at work or home to prevent a fire and make sure your Christmas is merry for all.
1. Hydrate your Christmas tree
Real trees get thirsty even after they’re cut down. Over time they lose their moisture and the needles begin to dry out and turn brown, which makes for fantastic fuel for a fire. In fact, a significant number of fire brigade callouts at this time of year are to attend tree-related fires. Watch just how quickly a dry tree can go up in flames in this video by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Keep your tree green and hydrated by ensuring the bottom inch of the trunk is submerged in water. If you opt for an artificial tree, make sure it’s fire resistant. Use only indoor lights on the tree and turn them off at night.
2. Mind your jumper
Are you wearing your favourite Christmas jumper right now? Chances are that it and those warm, fuzzy socks you love are made with a synthetic material, which can be highly flammable. Check the clothing tag and mind any dangling material when lighting candles, cooking over the hob, or warming your stockinged feet by the fire’s edge.
3. Use battery candles
Nothing makes a room warmer than the glow of a candle. But just like Christmas trees, unattended candle blazes are a big part of what keeps the fire brigade busy at this time of year. With so many realistic battery powered options on the market, consider replacing the wax candles in your windows or on your tables with battery alternatives.
If you must use real ones, never put lit candles on a Christmas tree and don’t leave them unattended– blow them out when you leave the room. Place them away from flammable materials (eg wrapping paper, plastics, hairspray, oils), out of reach of little one’s hands, and avoid places where they can be easily knocked into.
4. Ditch the old lights
If you’ve lost count of how many Christmases you’ve had that strand of lights, consider replacing them. Choosing LED bulbs over incandescent ones not only saves you money but can reduce the fire risk as they don’t get as hot. Always look for the CE safety mark to ensure the wiring has undergone rigorous safety checks.
Proper storage and handling can elongate the life of a strand, but be sure to check for broken coating or exposed wiring. Never switch out a burnt out bulb while the strand is plugged in. Only use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors; indoor lights are not as resistant to moisture and therefore more prone to shorting out, while outdoor lights produce too much heat for indoor use.
5. Don’t overload the plugs
One more thing plugged in won’t hurt, right? It’s so tempting, especially when short on sockets and time. Yet even a small surge can cause havoc on already overloaded outlets.
6. Test the smoke alarms and other equipment
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms (if you have a fuel burning stove) should be tested twice a year, especially when the kitchen and cooking appliances will be in such high demand. Keep extra batteries on hand for new toys so you’re not tempted to remove them from the alarms. Store a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in or near the kitchen and know how to use them.
7. Review your fire safety training
You’ve taken all the precautions but still accidents happen! Acting quickly will minimise damage and save lives. Prepare in advance by reviewing with others what to do in case of a fire, especially if people are unfamiliar with the building.
If you need to become certified in fire safety or first aid for the workplace, take one of our training courses. New courses begin weekly.
Bonus tips: never pour water on an oil or electrical fire; instead use the extinguisher or sand. Cut off the oxygen supply with a fire blanket or a lid (if cooking). If clothing alights, smother with a fire blanket or stop, drop and roll.
We wish you a safe and Merry Christmas from all of us at Ayrton Group.