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Be fire safe at Christmas

In Devon and Somerset, December is the busiest month of the year for house fires. And on Christmas Day itself, on average there will be five call-outs to house fires.

What is the most common type of fire at Christmas?

More than half of the fires we attend around Christmas are cooking-related.
When you are in the kitchen, always keep an eye on your cooking.


Top 3 likely causes of cooking fires

1. Many cooking fires are caused by getting distracted - whether that’s by animals, young children, unwrapping presents, or too much sherry.

2. Unattended cooking - we've attended incidents caused by people leaving their cooking in the oven and then going out. This is easily preventable. Never leave anything cooking when you're not at home, or even when you're asleep.

3. Alcohol is also a common factor when it comes to fires around cooking - either because the 'chef' is drinking too much, or doing some flamboyant cooking with high volume alcohol. Please take care around alcohol.

Can Christmas lights, candles and decorations cause fires?

  • Statistics tell us that we will attend at least one Christmas tree fire this year. Will it be yours? Always keep your real Christmas tree watered. If it’s too dry, it could catch fire.
  • Keep your Christmas tree and any decorations well away from flames and sources of heat. This includes fires, stoves, heaters and candles.
  • When it comes to Christmas lighting, take care with electricals. If you’re buying new - check lights for the British Safety Standard. And for lights you’ve had for a while, check for damage. If they don’t look in good working order, they may be unsafe.
  • Use extension leads safely (fully extended and don't overload with too many appliances needing lots of power). Ideally use one plug per socket, and never use block plug adapters.
  • Always turn off your Christmas lights if you’re out of the house, and when you go to bed.

Stay safe this Christmas and check your smoke alarm

You’re more than twice as likely to die in a fire at home if you don't have a working smoke alarm.
We’ve made our own version of jingle bells that we’d like you to remember:

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Oh what fun it is to test
Your smoke alarm on Christmas day!

Safer driving this Christmas

When you're out and about over Christmas this year, make sure you drive to arrive.
1. Plan your journey
2. Take regular breaks to combat tiredness
3. Never drink (or take drugs) and drive (think about the morning after too)
4. Slow down

Real life Christmas fire stories

Electrical fault causes Christmas lights fire - told by firefighter Matt Doble, Somerton, Somerset

"It was early on Christmas day when we got the call. It only took us a minute or two to arrive with three fire engines, which was lucky as there were already flames coming out of the living room window when we got there.

"The man who raised the alarm had tried to fight the fire - caused by overloaded electricals from Christmas lights. Unfortunately he sustained severe burns around his face and chest and ended up in intensive care for several days.

"It was a horrible sight, seeing his young children there in their pyjamas so devastated. Not only were they seeing their home (and all the Christmas presents) go up in flames, but also their dad was severely ill and taken to hospital - and all on Christmas Day. That poor family had to be rehoused for many months."

Read more about electrical safety

Stories from Jonny Watson in Fire Control

Elderly woman saved from cooking fire

"I remember one Christmas our crews went to an incident at a vulnerable elderly woman’s home in Exeter. She was cooking her own Christmas dinner when it began to smoke a lot.

"Luckily the team got there in time to get her to safety, stop the fire without any damage and get the flat properly ventilated.

"When it came time to leave, one of the firefighters stayed behind and with the help of some vegetables from one neighbour and a leg of turkey from another, he cooked up a Christmas meal for the lady!"

Read more about cooking safety

Chimney fire interrupts Christmas dinner

“A crew in Torquay went to a chimney fire literally in the room where the family were having Christmas dinner. Chimney fires can get really messy.”

Read more about chimney fires and how to prevent them

No presents left after traditional candles used incorrectly

“One Christmas we went to a fire caused when a family carried on an old tradition of having lit candles in antique holders on the tree, until one Christmas the whole tree went up.

“There were definitely no presents left for anyone after that one. The house was badly damaged. Fortunately the occupants were not seriously injured, but they did suffer from smoke inhalation."

Read more about candle safety

All our safety information can be made available in other languages. Please contact 0800 050 2999 to request a copy


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