Don’t let your Christmas go up in smoke

For many families, putting the Christmas decorations up is one of the most exciting parts of the festive period. The twinkling fairy lights and flickering candles create a cosy, magical feel in your home. But did you know that your decorations can also increase the risk of fire?

christmas tree

Unsafe electrical decorations, overloaded plugs and unattended candles are all potential causes of fire. That is why we felt it was important to put together some simple fire prevention tips, so you’re aware of any potential hazards in your home and to ensure you and your family enjoy the Christmas celebrations safely.

Electrical

First things first, be sure to test your smoke alarms every week. If the sound is weak or non-existent, you should replace your batteries.

At Christmas, many people will use extension leads to accommodate extra appliances. Make sure to check the rating of your extension leads before use. The most common rating is 13A, which means it can only handle 13 amps or 3000 watts of power at a time. 

If you’re using an extension lead with 4 spaces, it isn’t always safe to use all of them at the same time. So, make sure don’t overload your extension lead with appliances that will exceed the maximum current rating.

You can get an idea of what will overload an extension lead by using a socket overload calculator: http://www.elecheck.co.uk/services/electric/socket-calculator

Candles

Christmas candles mark the festive holiday and can add to the magical atmosphere in your home. However, the increase in popularity has also meant an increase in fires caused by candles over the years, so it’s important to use them safely.

Keep all candles away from your Christmas tree, curtains or any other fabrics or surfaces that could easily catch fire. Candles should also be placed in a fire-resistant candleholder on an even, heat resistant surface and out of the way of children and pets. Put any burning candles out before you leave a room or when you go to bed.  

Decorations and lights

Christmas decorations can be highly flammable, so it’s vital that they’re hung with care. Don’t put them above or around the fireplace and never attach them to lights or heaters. Make sure you switch off or unplug any Christmas lights or decorations before going to bed or leaving the house. You should also check that your lights have the British Safety Standard sign (BS EN 60598).

A residual current device (RCD) needs to be used on outdoor equipment. This important safety device can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault. You can find an RCD in most DIY stores.

Christmas trees

There's nothing more Christmassy than the smell of a real Christmas tree. If you’re opting for a real tree this year, make sure you pick out a fresh one. The needles should be green and shouldn’t break. The trunk should also be sticky to touch. To test your tree, you can bounce the trunk on the ground. If it is an old tree, lots of needles will fall off meaning it has dried out and could be a potential fire hazard.

A 6ft tree can drink up to two pints of water daily, so ensure the tree is kept standing in a bucket of water that’s topped up every day. The video below demonstrates why it is so important to water your real Christmas tree.

Cooking

According to the Fire Safety Advice Centre, nearly two thirds of all domestic fires happen because of cooking, making the kitchen a high-risk area. Many of us enjoy having a tipple or two over the festive period, but it’s important not to cook under the influence of alcohol and never leave cooking unattended.

This Christmas protect your home and what’s in it with buildings and contents Home Insurance through Swinton.

What’s more, during the festive period our Classic and Premier polices give you an extra 10% increase in contents cover to protect your gifts, as well as any extra food and drink in your home.

For more information or to get a quote, visit https://www.swinton.co.uk/home-insurance/

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