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Fire safety at Christmas

Dudley Council takes the safety of its residents very seriously and because of this an extensive review of fire safety in high and low blocks was carried out. As a consequence, the fire safety policy has been developed, implemented and is under constant review.

We identified the need to ensure that communal areas are kept free of any obstacles or items which could prove hazardous in the case of a fire in any of our blocks. The reasoning behind this is two-fold – it is so that emergency services would not be hindered if an evacuation had to be conducted, and to help stop the spread of fire within the blocks.

Unfortunately Christmas decorations can pose as a fire hazard as many are highly flammable. According to the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2011/12 fairy light fires caused 20 fires, while Christmas trees, decorations and cars were responsible 47 house fires – leading to 20 non-fatal casualties, across the UK. The figures may be far higher as these are only the instances which were reported.

We do not want any of our residents to become statistics, or have their Christmas period ruined due to fire.

Here are a few recommendations:

  • Candles: Don’t leave lighted candles unattended and always make sure they are extinguished at the end of the day. Make sure they are not placed near any flammable materials eg tree, curtains, furnishings, cushions. Keep away from children and pets.

  • Christmas trees: Christmas trees are highly flammable. Keep them in a well ventilated area and do not leave unattended when lights are lit. Living trees should be watered regularly.

  • Christmas trees (natural): dry ‘real’ trees should be kept moist by watering them and kept away from ignition sources.

  • Cooking: keep the cooker clear of items including tea towels. Never leave the cooker unattended when in use. If there is a fire on the cooker – seal the room and ring 999.

  • Decorations: use decorations which are non flammable/fire retardant whenever possible. If you use any tissue paper or cardboard decorations check them for wear and tear as they burn easily. Do not place decorations around or above a fireplace, heater, or light fittings. If you have decorated using an aerosol can – keep the can away from heat and dispose of it correctly

  • Electrical appliances and decorations: turn off all electrical appliances when they are not in use and don’t over load sockets. Make sure fuses are the appropriate size and use RCD’s on any outdoor items.

  • Fairy lights: make sure that they are working and have no bear wires. Don’t overload sockets and don’t place near anything flammable as they may get hot. Turn off over night or when they are unattended. Fairy lights should meet British Standard

  • Fire doors: should be keep free from any obstacles or tripping hazards.

  • Fireworks: if using fireworks store them carefully and then read the instructions before use. Store away from heat sources. If you live in a block and have a balcony – please do not release fireworks from your property.

  • Ignition sources: make sure decorations and cards are kept away from heat sources

  • Smoke alarms: make sure your smoke alarm is working and that the batteries aren’t flat. We recommend you test your smoke alarms every week and that you keep it clean and remove any dust. Don’t remove batteries to use in presents!

If you live in one of our high or low rise properties:

  • Wreaths on doors: Communal areas can be decorated by residents placing a wreath on their front door, which again should be non flammable.

  • Decorations in communal areas: Decorations, such as tinsel and electrical ornaments, not be placed within the shared area.

If any unsuitable items are put up in the communal areas we will, unfortunately, have to remove them for the safety of all residents within the block.

Remember, be careful – December is the worst month of the year for accidental fires in the home, with 20 people every day either killed or injured in the UK.

To find out more about fire safety at Christmas why not visit the West Midlands Fire Safety pages.