Have you festooned every available surface of your home inside and out with lights and decorations? Or have you not bothered this year because you’re on the Christmas Party Express and you’re only home to sleep so what’s the point? Like most of us you’re probably somewhere in between. Like it, love it or loathe it, most of us will be caught up in Christmas festivities in some fashion – as are our Fire Service. “Christmas is traditionally a busy time for us” Maurice Rafferty, Area Commander, NI Fire & Rescue Service explained. ”We see the number of fires in the home increase due to extra fire hazards such as candles, fairy tree lights, portable heaters, overloaded sockets and people using fires that have not been lit for some time. Over the Christmas period last year we received 1,545 calls and Firefighters attended 1,005 incidents across Northern Ireland.” Whatever your plans are for the Christmas period Pinpoint Estate Agents Belfast have some Festive Safety Precautions to help you prevent fires from occurring, and keep both your home and your family safe.
1. First things first – test your smoke alarm every week and use Christmas as a reminder to clean it and remove dust.
2. Check your Christmas tree lights are in good working order and conform to the British Safety Standard. Inspect them…they should not display any loose or frayed wires, loose or cracked bulbs, or any other physical faults and replace bulbs in light strings with those of the same wattage, when applicable otherwise you can potentially cause the entire string of lights to overheat and start a fire.
3. Only use lights and electrical decorations that are approved for outdoor use. Outdoor lights and decorations are often manufactured to withstand rain, snow, and other harsh elements. Using decorations that are approved for indoor-use outside may trigger an electrical fire when they come into contact with certain elements.
4. Never overload electrical sockets.
5. Keep all extension cords and strings of lights suspended up and away from standing water and snow. If extension cords and wiring come into contact with standing water, they can trigger an electrical fire or cause electrocution.
6. Turn off or unplug all electrical decorations when leaving the house or going to sleep. Leaving your decorations unsupervised means that nobody is around to notice any fire that might start. Lights and other electrical components become overheated due to being left on for an extended period of time.
7. Buy fresh, green trees instead of trees that are dry and losing pine needles. Fresh trees are less flammable and less likely to ignite; whereas dry trees can catch fire when they come into contact with very warm or hot lights. •Purchase a fire-resistant or flame-retardant tree if you decide on an artificial tree instead of a live tree.
8. Never hang decorations over heat sources or place lit candles near your Christmas tree, decorations or furnishings, or near an open window which might blow curtains over the flame… and never leave them unattended.
9. Have you ever thought what you would save in the case of a house fire? If you are curious to see what others would save but while you’re thinking – check your home insurance is in date and at that the level of cover is appropriate – especially if its been some time since you reviewed it. Make sure it covers all the contents of your home including all the presents you have purchased for other people and check the small print! Pinpoint Property offer free and independent financial advice if you want to check you have the best insurance product to fit your needs.
10. We at Pinpoint Property don’t expect it to be a white Christmas this year, and we don’t imagine it will be a dry one…in any respect! Last year the fire service attended 49 accidental house fires over Christmas – almost half of which were caused by cooking or cooking appliances such as grill pans, cookers or chip pans left unattended and tragically 3 people died. Why not plan ahead? Have something ready to eat in the fridge for when you come home after a night burning up the calories on the dance floor so you’re not tempted to cook and you’re not too tired to stay awake and see it through.
Now that you’ve read through our checklist, go back and look at our lovely Christmas photo and see if it tells you a different story…