Fire Safety at Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, it can get pretty manic in the kitchen, especially if you’re planning a festive feast for family and friends. Even when you’re swept up in the hectic preparations for Christmas dinner, caution and safety should definitely not be overlooked.

When it comes to fire safety, not surprisingly, the kitchen is a high-risk area. According to statistics from the emergency services, most house fires start in the kitchen – and 89% of these occur when the householder is in another room, thus leaving heated appliances unattended. They have usually forgotten about leaving food cooking on the hob, under the grill, or in the oven. Around 20% have fallen asleep in another room!


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Christmas fire risks

In the UK, a massive 1,535 of kitchen fires in the past 12 months were caused by an unattended chip pan setting alight. It’s more likely your oven will catch fire if it hasn’t been cleaned for a long time and there’s a build-up of grease.

The regular causes of cooking fires are multiplied at Christmas, because of the additional use of the kitchen. The general chaos of the festive period, when more people are likely to be at your house celebrating, makes it even more hazardous. If you’ve had the odd glass of festive bubbly while preparing the Christmas dinner, this could put you at a greater risk.

It’s no surprise that Christmas Day is the peak day for home kitchen fires, followed by Christmas Eve. A leading cause of Christmas fires is having decorations in the kitchen. Cooking equipment is involved in one-fifth of Christmas decoration fires: they occur when the bunting is put up too close to the cooker or other heated equipment.


Tree lights

Many people prefer a real Christmas tree, but they do come with their disadvantages! A real tree is more likely to catch fire than an artificial alternative that is made from fire-retardant material. If you choose a real tree, keep it well-watered, as it can absorb up to one litre of water per day. Don’t let it dry out, as it can become a greater fire hazard.

Keep it away from heat sources, particularly open fires and portable heaters. Never spray hairspray on to the branches in the belief it will prevent the needles from falling, as this will present a far greater fire risk!

Statistics show 85% of people in Britain decorate their tree with lights. When Christmas lights have been stored away for a year, always check they aren’t broken or damaged – including loose or exposed wires – before you put them on the tree. If any bulbs need replacing, use the correct type and don’t go for a cheap option.

Always switch off your lights and unplug them before you go to bed and before you go out. If they suffer an electrical fault and set alight when you’re not around, it only takes minutes before the whole room is enveloped in flames. Keep the lights away from flammable decorations, especially those made of paper, such as bunting.

Don’t overload sockets and avoid using multiple extension leads. If your lights are faulty, don’t attempt to repair them yourself – buy a new set. Safety experts suggest using LED lights rather than traditional filament lighting, as they use less power, generate less heat and reduce the risk of fires.


Open fires

We’ve all heard the Christmas song, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, conjuring up images of snuggling up in front of a blazing fire in the hearth. While having a traditional fire can be lovely, it also creates its own risks.

If you’re planning on cooking treats such as mallows or toast on a toasting fork over an open fire, be careful not to set the food alight. Don’t get too close yourself, or you could burn your hands and set your clothes on fire.

If you hang Christmas stockings on the mantelpiece, don’t have them too close to the open fire, as they could set alight, especially if you have a big fire blazing in the grate. Try to avoid putting Christmas cards on the mantelpiece, because if the room is draughty, it only takes one to blow into the hearth and you’re likely to have a fire on your hands.


Tips to prevent fires

To combat the increased risks of a fire at Christmas, make sure you have a working smoke alarm on all levels of your home. This will give you and your loved ones the extra time needed to escape a blaze. It’s not a great idea to have any kind of paper decorations in the kitchen, or over any open fire.

Even if the rest of the family is sitting around the dining table enjoying a festive drink, never leave your Christmas dinner unattended as it cooks. Also, don’t cook when under the influence of alcohol – as it can severely impair your judgment. Double check that all your cooking appliances are turned off after using them.

It’s too easy to go and sit with your family and guests, crack open the bubbly – and forget you left the hob on to heat the white sauce for your Christmas pudding! In the event there is a fire, don’t take risks. Get everyone out and call the fire brigade.

The Christmas decorations, wrapping paper and Christmas tree can go up at lightning speed. Presents can be replaced, but you can’t. Make sure everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire, such as where the quickest escape routes are.


Check on neighbours

If you have any elderly or vulnerable neighbours, make sure they are safe over Christmas too. Be aware that fire safety over the festive period should extend to everyone, including those people who may not be able to care for themselves properly.

Should the worst scenario happen and your house catches fire over the festive period, don’t let it turn into a crisis. Contact your insurer right away to make a claim – and then contact Furniture Rental Online.

We offer emergency furniture rental for people suffering with fire damage. We can help to get your home life back on track! Call us on 0800 7819 427 for more details.

The Furniture Rental Online team would like to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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