10 December 2010

Whether a Christmas tree is real or artificial and fully loaded with tinsel, lights and baubles or simply decorated, it’s presence in the home increases the risk of a fire.

Electrical problems are some of the most common causes of house fires during this festive time often due to overloaded sockets or faulty wiring.

To keep you home safe Northamptonshire county council’s fire and rescue service recommend the following Christmas tree and light safety advice:

  • Do not place Christmas trees and decorations close to a heat source including a fireplace or heat vent. Heat dries out pine trees, resulting in wood which can be easily ignited.
  • Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ash near a tree.
  • Do not put live Christmas trees up too early or leave them up for longer than two weeks - when the tree becomes dry, promptly discard of it.
  • Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • Safely dispose of real trees at a recycling centre or use a community pickup service.
  • Do not attach any decorations to lights or heaters and keep them away from candles.

Extra care is required when using lights:

  • Do not overload electrical outlets and check lights for faulty wiring.
  • Check the fuses are the right type by reviewing product information.
  • If a bulb blows, immediately turn off the power, unplug the lights and replace with a new bulb.
  • Do not leave the lights on if you are going out or overnight.
  • Do not let the bulbs touch anything that could burn easily, such as paper.
  • Do not light candles or have a naked flame on or near the tree.
  • Use lights only for their specific purpose - never use indoor lights outside or outdoor lights inside.

The fire and rescue service is reminding residents that in the event of a fire a smoke alarm can save lives. A working smoke alarm should be fitted on each floor of the home and tested weekly.

Additional information:

For more information or to speak to a member of staff contact Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Prevention Team on 01604 797000 or email enquiries@northantsfire.org.uk

Consumer concerns about the safety of lights can be reported to Trading Standards by contacting Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.