With fireworks reigning in the New Year 2016 in just over one month’s time, firecracker safety is paramount so that everyone enters the next year safely. Before that, Christmas is on its way, the time when lights, trees, candles and other emblems of display define this festive time.
According to the Fire Statistics Great Britain office, in 2011/12, candles sparked around 1000 UK house fires which caused casualties. Fairy lights and Christmas trees are also a risk over this time. However, with careful planning, accidents can be avoided.
One should never leave burning candles unattended and candles should never be put on Christmas trees as they could ignite. They should always be placed on a heat resistant surface and in a proper holder so that they won’t fall over. Fairy lights should comply with safety standards. Trailing cables and wires in the house should be kept securely away, as they may pose a trip hazard. Decorations and cards should be kept away from fireplaces and sources of heat. Christmas tree lights should be switched off when going to bed or not in the house.
Careful selection should be made of the Christmas tree itself. The needles on a fresh tree should be green and hard to pull back from the branches. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. If the needles easily fall off, the tree may have dried out and will be a fire hazard. If ignited, a fresh tree can burn quite profusely (as the video below shows). The stand should be well watered and the tree kept away from heat sources.
Sparklers and fireworks should be used with caution over the New Year. Fireworks should be kept in a closed box, only used one at a time and kept away from heat sources. They should be lit at arm’s length with a taper. The person using the fireworks should distance themselves and others well away from them. Rocket fireworks should be directed away from spectators. If a bonfire is part of the festivities, petrol/paraffin should not be thrown into it.
With the extra potential hazards over the holiday season, it is pertinent that smoke alarms are working. The kitchen is also a potential hazard area; care should be taken when basting turkeys with hot oil. Of one wishes to light up the house from the outside, a residual current device on outdoor electrical equipment should be used. Children should always be protected by buying gifts for the correct age groups. Baubles and bulbs can pose a choking hazard for young children; these should be kept high on the tree out of reach.
Adults need to be responsible for themselves as well. Although one should never drink and drive at any time of the year, the holiday season may pose extra incidences of when alcohol is consumed. Extra vigilance should be kept and travelling by taxi/public transport should be part of the plan.