Cornwall: Stay Safe This Christmas

12 December 2013, 12:37 | Updated: 12 December 2013, 12:57

fire engine

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service is reminding everyone that Christmas can be a potentially hazardous time of year.

Some of our favourite festive traditions such as cooking Christmas dinner, decorating the home and enjoying that festive tipple, could have the potential to leave their celebrations in ruin. Some of these additional fire risks include:

People leaving cooking unattended or cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol;
Increased use of candles in the home;
Decorations which can burn very easily;
Christmas tree lights and exterior festive lighting which hasn’t been used for a year and/or might be faulty;
Use of additional/alternative heating appliances during colder spells.

CFRS Crew Manager Mark Pratten said:

“December is always one of our busiest months for property fires - we attended 26 accidental property fires in December 2012. With all the distractions of preparing for the festive season, fire safety is often pushed to the back of our minds.

There are also potential dangers from dry Christmas trees, flammable decorations and stray wrapping paper which can all act as extra fuel for a fire sparked by overloaded and overheated plug sockets, faulty fairy lights, unattended candles or carelessly discarded cigarettes.

Christmas is a time for celebrating with family and friends, and we want to keep it that way. Follow our Christmas Fire Safety advice as by being aware of the risks and making a few simple checks you can ensure that you and your loved ones can celebrate in safety.”

The celebrations can result in a whole cocktail of fire risks in the home. The distractions of a crowded house can result in cooking being left unattended and the added influence of alcohol and slower reaction times means that it’s even more important to stay alert while preparing the Christmas dinner. Here are some top tips to help you celebrate in safety this festive season:

Ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed on all levels of your home. A working alarm can give you the vital time needed to escape in a fire. Test your smoke alarms regularly and never remove batteries to power presents!
Check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas to ensure their safety as they are at greater risk from fire.
Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Avoid cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol and always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.
Never leave candles unattended. Keep candles out of the reach of children, and away from decorations, cards and wrapping paper, fires, lights and heaters.
Put your cigarette out, right out. Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished and take care when drunk or tired. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight.
Don’t overload sockets – ensure only one plug per socket. Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.
Ensure you switch off fairy lights and unplug them before you go to bed, or leave the house. Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598).
Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment. This safety device can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault and can be found in any DIY store.
Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire – in the event of fire: get out, stay out and call 999

For more information or for a Home fire safety assessment please call the 24hr freephone Fire Safety Helpline on 0800 3581 999 or go to or