Christmas trees, lights and candles
Trees and decorations
If you’ve got a real Christmas tree, always keep it watered – they can become a fire risk if they dry out – and keep the water away from lights and cables.
Make sure your Christmas lights are in good condition. If you’re replacing old ones, LED sets are the safer option.
Don’t leave Christmas lights or powered decorations switched on when you go out or to bed. Turn them off and make sure you close doors around your home. If you’d like more information on night-time routines and keeping safe, visit our plan your escape section.
LED candles don’t get hot, so there’s much less risk of fire. If you must use real candles, never leave them unattended and always keep them away from flammable items including Christmas decorations and curtains. Here are some other candle top tips:
- keep them out of the reach of children and pets, and away from anywhere they might knock them over
- place burning candles at least three inches apart so they don’t melt one another or create draughts that can cause the candles to flare
- always use a sturdy, heat-resistant candle holder on a heat-resistant surface that’s big enough to contain drips and melted wax
Smoke alarms and cooking
Fit them, test them weekly and NEVER be tempted to remove the batteries to power toys and other presents.
Encourage your friends and family to test their smoke alarm regularly, especially if they’re elderly. If you feel you or someone you know might benefit from a safe and well visit, especially if they are at higher risk, you can find out more and send us the details on our Safe and Well page.
For more information on smoke alarms, see our smoke alarms section
Accidental fires in the home often start in the kitchen but there are ways you can reduce the risk:
- Don’t drink alcohol before or during cooking
- never leave a cooker unattended when it’s in use
- avoid trailing electrical leads and cables in the kitchen
- take care if you flambé or flame the Christmas pud!
Driving and road safety
Drinking and being under the influence of drugs (both illegal and prescription) can affect your vision, co-ordination and judgement, resulting in slower reaction times and stopping distances.
If you’re planning to go out for a drink: order a taxi (in advance), use public transport or get a relative or friend to pick you up.
Remember: you might still be over the limit the morning after a night’s drinking.
Check the local and national weather forecasts and do your vehicle checks: water, fuel, oil, tyres, wipers, lights, anti-freeze and oil. Take your sat nav and/or road map, and your mobile phone – is it charged?
In icy and snowy conditions, make sure you’re equipped with warm clothes, food, boots and a torch. Take a spade, clear your windows and mirrors before you set out and carry a screen scraper and de-icer
Match your speed and braking distances to the driving conditions.
Toys and gadgets
Presents! They’re one of the best parts of Christmas, but with electronic gizmos and gadgets, it’s important to make sure you use them properly.
Always use the correct cables and chargers. Don’t be tempted to use that ‘old one that looks about the same’ because the shops are closed. It’s important to follow manufacturers instructions and use the right ones.
Be certain that gadgets and toys carry the correct safety standards marks to ensure they are safe for you or your family.
Make sure batteries are safe and in good condition – no taking them from your smoke alarm!
Don’t forget when you get new electrical toys, gadgets and gizmos that you should register them with the manufacturer. Then if there’s ever an issue or a recall, you’ll be the first to know! You can find most major manufacturers on our register your appliance page!
Escape routes and visitors
Make sure people in your home, even your ‘Christmas Bubble’ visitors, know how to escape in case of fire – the route, how your doors unlock, and where you keep the keys. Where possible, take time to check on older relatives, friends and neighbours as they are at potentially at greater risk from fire. You can do this by phone to stay COVID-19 safe.
Always ensure you adhere to COVID-19 guidelines around visitors to your home, or when you visit others.
If visiting others, make sure you know where the exits are and how to get out if you need to.
Shops and commercial safety
Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for the retail sector. Follow our simple safety tips to protect your business from fire.
Fire risk assessment
- Is your risk assessment up to date? Has it been reviewed to consider additional stock or extended opening hours?
- Are combustible materials such as waste cardboard stored safely and securely to avoid the risk of arson?
- Do Christmas decorations or lights cause additional fire risks? Keep combustible decorations away from light fittings and turn off all electrical items when the shop is closed.
Visit our fire safety section for help and guidance around fire risk assessments.
Christmas trees & decorations
- Take care with decorations and trees. Always use flame resistant/fire retardant products
- Christmas trees should never block or obscure escape routes, fire doors, fire escape signage, firefighting equipment or other safety features
- Switch all Christmas decorations off at night or when the store is closed
- Don’t overload your electrical circuits.
- Ensure that new or temporary staff are familiar with the layout of the building and emergency exit routes
- Make sure everyone knows what to do if the fire alarm sounds, or if they discover a fire
- Train a suitable number of staff on the safe use of extinguishing equipment
Storage of extra stock
- Store stock safely – make sure corridors, stairs and exits are clear
- Keep stock well away from heaters, light fittings, or other heat sources
- Keep fire doors closed to stop fires from spreading – never prop them open.