Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Stay Safe at Christmas

Take a few extra precautions to make sure that you and your family enjoy a safe and happy Christmas, that’s the message from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.

As the decorations go up so do the risks of fire in the home, thousands of people will be putting candles and other highly flammable decorations up, welcoming visitors to their homes, cooking huge meals and enjoying some festive cheer with a drink or two.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick said: “Christmas is a time for cheer and goodwill but not a lot of people know that it is also one of our busiest months. It is vital that people take a few extra precautions to make sure that they and their family can enjoy a safe and happy Christmas.”

But by following 12 simple steps everyone can make sure that they and their families are safe and sound throughout the Christmas period to ring in the New Year.

- Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard. Always use an RCD on outdoor electrical equipment (safety device that can save lives by instantly switching off the power).

- Never place candles near your Christmas tree or furnishings. Don't leave them burning unattended.

- Make sure your family and visitors staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency. Practice a fire escape plan.

- Decorations can burn easily - Don't attach them to lights or heaters.

- Switch off electrical appliances when not in use, unless they're designed to stay on. Take special care with Christmas lights. Always switch off and unplug Christmas lights before you go to bed.

- Celebrate Christmas and New Year safely. The risk of accidents, especially in the kitchen, is greater after alcohol is consumed.

- Most fires start in the kitchen - never leave cooking unattended.

- If you are planning to celebrate with fireworks, store them in a metal box, read the instructions, never go back to a lit firework and keep a bucket of water nearby.

- Make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished.

- Check the battery in your smoke alarm every week and use Christmas as a reminder to clean it and remove dust.

- Keep candles, lighters and matches out of reach of children.

- Take the time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours this Christmas - make sure they are fire safe.

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