With Christmas coming and the goose getting fat, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is wishing families a safe festive break.
The UK’s leading accident prevention charity is encouraging people to follow simple home safety tips, particularly to protect against fire.
Families are reminded to extinguish candles before going to bed and to never leave them burning unattended or on/near a Christmas tree, curtains or soft furnishings.
Essential tips include buying enough batteries to fit in new toys and other Christmas gifts to avoid the temptation of removing batteries from a smoke alarm and checking up on older relatives and neighbours, who may be at greater risk of a fire.
Candles sparked around 1,000 UK house fires, resulting in 9 deaths and 388 casualties, in 2011/12.
Fairy lights went up in smoke causing 20 fires, while Christmas trees, decorations and cards were also a fire risk and responsible for 47 house fires, which led to 20 non-fatal casualties.
Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, said: “We want everyone to have a safe and happy Christmas, but accidents can easily happen. With a little care and forward planning they can be avoided.
“Christmas is a time when people tend to light candles around the house, but don’t place them near anything that can catch light, like a Christmas tree. Always use a stable candle holder and make sure to blow candles out before going to bed or leaving the house.
“Most importantly, remember to never leave candles unattended and always out of the reach of children.”
Mark Cashin, chair of the Chief Fire Officers Association’s National Home Safety Committee, said: “Amid all the fun and festivities it’s easy to forget that there are more fire hazards in the home at Christmas than at any other time of year.
“Decorations can burn easily, so don’t attach them to lights or heaters. Check your fairy lights carry the British Safety standard logo and remember to unplug them before you go to bed. Sockets should never be overloaded.
“The majority of house fires start in the kitchen, so make sure your cooker is clean and clear of items like tea towels – and no matter how busy you are, never leave your cooking unattended.”
RoSPA is offering a range of Christmas home safety tips which include:
- Keep decorations and cards away from fires and heat sources, such as light fittings
- Never leave burning candles unattended. Don’t put candles on/near Christmas trees and always extinguish them before you go to bed
- Check the wiring on Christmas lights and think about replacing old ones which may not meet higher safety standards due to their age
- Don’t overload electric sockets
- Check your smoke alarm is working and never remove batteries from them to use in new toys – it could cost you your life
- Keep the cooker clear of items including tea towels.
For more Christmas and Winter safety advice visit RoSPA’s Winter Safety Hub.