Take extra care with your Christmas lights and heaters

TURN off your Christmas lights and other electrical items when you go out or go to bed and don’t leave wet winter clothes to dry near a heater.

These are the latest warnings from Cleveland Fire Brigade in its ongoing ‘Stay Safe and Celebrate’ campaign to keep people from harm over the festive season.

Every year during the holidays, lots of people are injured because they don’t take enough care in their own homes.

Some of these incidents involve accidents with Christmas lights or heaters and fire chiefs are advising people to follow some common sense rules to keep out of trouble.

They are urging people to make sure that Christmas lights and other electrical items are switched off last thing at night or when the house is empty, and to follow these other simple checks as well:

  • Check that lights aren’t damaged or broken and look out for loose or worn wires.
  • Make sure that the fuse in the plug is the right size – the instructions for the lights should tell you the maximum size of fuse you should use.
  • Don’t overload sockets.
  • Replace any bulbs which blow.
  • Don’t let the bulbs touch anything which can burn easily, such as paper or fabrics or other Christmas tree decorations.
  • Never overload plug sockets.

People can also buy light-emitting (LED) bulbs for use indoors, which work at a lower voltage than traditional bulbs so there is less risk of an electric shock. For outside decorations, only purpose-made outdoor lights should be used and must be connected through a socket protected by a residual current device (RCD) which protects against electric shock by disconnecting the electricity if the current is uneven.

A lot of care also needs to be taken with heaters – above all, people should avoid the temptation to dry wet clothes near heaters or cookers because of the risk of fire. Also:

  • Keep heaters away from furniture, bedding, curtains or other fabrics.
  • Don’t put anything over a heater and don’t move it when it is switched on.
  • Don’t leave a heater unattended when children or animals are around and make sure a safety guard is fitted.
  • Never use flammable substances such as aerosols, adhesives and cleaning fluids near a heater.
  • Keep your heater clean and well-maintained.

Les Jones, Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Head of Community Safety, said: “It’s lovely to see Christmas lights aglow, but treat them with respect or they could cause a fire.

“Never use them if they are damaged or worn, never overload sockets and never leave them on when you go to bed or leave the house.

“Take care too when using heaters. In this winter weather it might seem like a good idea to leave damp clothes to dry beside a heater or cooker, but never ever do so as they can so easily catch fire.

“Please follow these simple steps to help keep yourself and your family safe from fire over the festive season.”

For more information about the ‘Stay Safe and Celebrate’ campaign, visit www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/celebrate and click on the different items in the interactive house feature to get detailed safety tips and advice as well as view safety videos.

To help keep you and your family safe from fire this festive season, call the Fire Brigade on 01429 874063 for a free Home Fire Safety Visit – the Brigade will fit smoke alarms for you if needed.