It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas with hotels, restaurants and shops already displaying their trees and decorations for a number of weeks and more and more houses too lighting up for the festive season.

Other businesses too will now be thinking of putting up their decorations whether it’s the foyer of an office block or the reception area of any commercial premises

With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that your family and home as well as employees and visitors to your business premises are safe from fire this Christmas.

To help you to keep your people, equipment and property safe, we would advise you follow these simple guidelines so you too can relax over the holiday period.

Fire Safety Advice for the Workplace

The  most important principle when it comes to fire safety in the workplace is the regular testing of fire alarms. Though all business premises should test their fire alarm regularly, it is especially true of larger work environments where fires may start far away from where people are usually sat or working throughout the day. Having a suitable and functioning fire detection system in place is particularly important at Christmas time in premises such as shops, restaurants and even offices where decorations and trees are put up.

If anything does go wrong with your Christmas decorations, you’ll need the appropriate fire safety equipment to deal with it. Fire extinguishers are one of the main ways of combating fires in the workplace, including a CommanderEDGE 2kg CO2 Fire Extinguisher which is suitable for use on electrical fires.

Alternatively, you could install a Dry-powder or a Water/AFFF Foam unit for the leaves, decorations and other textile type fires. If you are unsure which extinguishers are the best for your workplace, it’s important to get professional advice.

Materials that can catch fire easily must not be positioned anywhere near your Christmas tree. Artificial trees in particular are fuel for fires, and as they are large items, they could cause the spread of the fire more quickly than usual. What’s more, it is around your Christmas tree that you’re most likely to overload an electrical socket, so take care to avoid this.

Certain places aren’t suitable for your decorations and can cause harm in the long run. Decorations can burn easily, so don’t attach them to lights and lamps where they can over heat.

Importantly, fairy lights should not be left on at the end of the working day. Ensure that the last employees to leave the premises know that they are responsible for switching off these lights to avoid the risk of fire.

Many types of Christmas decorations use electricity, and while functioning decorations themselves don’t pose a fire safety problem, overloading an electrical power outlet can. Make sure not to plug too many of your decorations into the same outlet to avoid overheating and the threat of electrical fire. Also, check to ensure that you are using decorations with fuses in the plugs as this is an important safety device in the fight against fire. (This advice also applies to Christmas decorations in the home – see below).

Fire Safety Tips for Your Family Home

As mentioned above, over Christmas, it’s important not to overload electrical circuits to accommodate holiday lighting and decorations, increasing the potential for electrical fires as well as electricity outages. In fact, 25% Christmas tree fires tend to be caused by electrical issues. 

You should always inspect your fairy lights before plugging them in and that includes checking that the cord isn’t damaged.

Never overload an electrical circuit with multiple plugs, it’s far better to spread them over multiple sockets to avoid any issues, including electricity cuts.  You should also avoid adding extension leads to sockets that are powering major appliances as this too can cause electricity overload.

Always turn off all lights and decorations before leaving the house or going to bed. This should also apply to outside lights; and if you don’t want to brave the cold every night, you can set up a timer to automatically turn on the lights at dusk and turn them off the next morning. 

If you have a real tree, you should always keep it well watered.  Just two or three days without water could be enough to dry out a Christmas tree. So, water it every day as once a tree is dry, it can catch fire easily.

Other Electrical Equipment

Ensure your home is fitted with adequate smoke detectors.  This doesn’t just apply to Christmas but all year round to keep your family and property safe at all times.

If you are using extra extension cords over the holiday season, make sure they are heavy-duty, quality products with the relevant BS standards and kite marks.  Never run extension cords under rugs or in areas where they pose a tripping hazard. Keep in mind that an extension cord is meant to be used as a temporary solution so if you’re using one on a regular basis, you’d be better off having new sockets installed.

Candles provide a fabulous. festive ambiance as well as rich and joyful fragrances. But they’re also a huge fire hazard, responsible for starting hundreds of home fires each year. This is especially true during the holiday season with the top three days candle fires are most likely to occur are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve (days when alcohol consumption tends to increase!)

You may want to consider replacing traditional candles with flameless, battery-operated ones, but don't forget to turn these off when leaving the house as LED lights can get hot too.

It’s very important that you don’t leave a candle burning unattended. If you're going out, or even if you’re going to be out of the room for a while, blow out the candle rather than risk a potential fire.

Finally, you need to be very careful how and where you place your candles. Always use a sturdy candle holder to keep it from tipping over or touching flammable surfaces; and keep all candles at least 12 inches away from all flammable items.

Seasons’ Greetings from Hartson Fire

A full range of extinguishers and related products can be purchased from our website here

For businesses, don’t forget to ensure your fire safety equipment has been fully serviced, particularly ahead of the busy holiday season. 

We hope you will all have a fun filled and, above all, a safe Christmas holiday from all of us at Hartson Fire.