Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Stay Safe with Christmas Decorations

Take care with Christmas decorations and make sure that you stay fire safe this Christmas, that is the message from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.

Christmas decorations can be highly flammable so it’s vital that they’re hung with care. Never attach them to lights or heaters, are kept well away from candles and not hung around the fire place.

“As well as making the place look cheerful and Christmassy decorations can add extra fire risk to the home,” said Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick, Safer Communities.

“We aren’t saying bah humbug to all decorations just asking people to take care when it comes to putting up them up. It’s as easy as making sure that they are away from heaters, fire places and that candles are kept well away from decorations and the Christmas tree.

“Our best advice is not to use real candles at all. Candle effect LED lights are widely available and they create the same effect as a candle with none of the risk of a naked flame so our best advice is to use them instead.

“It is also important to be electrical fire safe. Turn off decorations when you go to bed or go out and don’t overload plug sockets with plug-in Christmas decorations.”

Our best advice to stay safe over the festive period is to follow the 12 days of Christmas Fire Safety:
- 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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