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You make it festive. We’ll make it safe.

01 December 2020

You make it festive. We’ll make it safe.

We don’t mean to be party poopers here, but it’s no secret that throughout the festive season it’s a busy period for all and can often be a time when things can go wrong.

Maybe it’s because things are different during the holidays. There’s more of us together in the one place, usually more alcohol, more flammable items, and more potential for things to go wrong.

That being the case, we thought we’d put together a list of preventative tips to ensure you and your family enjoy a festive season as safe as it is merry.

Oh, Christmas tree

For most people who celebrate Christmas during the holiday season, the tree is the focal point in their home and tends to be situated where it can be shown off to its fullest. However, this yuletide star is responsible for its fair share of mishaps – and often these are fire-related.

Pine, fir and conifer are full of flammable resins and these can spontaneously combust if exposed to too much heat, especially if it’s already dry. So, when it comes to choosing a tree, get the freshest possible one and water it regularly. Most importantly, ensure it’s a safe distance from anything flammable.  

If you’ve decided to go the artificial tree route, then make sure you pick a fire resistant one. Normally these are labelled, but if in doubt, ask.

Remember, not only is the tree itself flammable, but it is festooned with tinsel and paper ornaments, all of which pose a significant fire risk. So, before you hang the sparkle decorations, ensure that they’re non-combustible and flame-resistant.

Fairy lights not fiery lights!

There’s nothing prettier than a street full of fairy lights twinkling merrily in the dark. But before putting any up, make sure your lights are up to safety standards. Ensure they have an ‘Australia Approval’ number on them and that they’re safe for outdoor use.

Think about adding a safety switch to your switchboard: if the switch detects a power imbalance associated with an electric shock, it will stop the flow of current in less than a heartbeat, potentially saving a life.

The lights are on but nobody’s home

If you’re not going to be home at any stage, then get into the habit of switching your lights off. Yes, we know they look pretty, but better to be safe than sorry.

And speaking of safe, it’s also a good idea to switch your lights off at night before you go to bed. Or, invest in an automatic timer – even easier!

Don't overload your electrical outlets

During the holidays our electrical outlets take a hammering as we plug in lights, appliances, flashing decorations, new toys and the like. And precisely for this reason, that’s why it isn’t uncommon for fires to start.

Always ensure lights, extension cords and power boards are suitable for the situation in which you intend to use them – use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors.

Don’t have too many cables running out of one outlet. Have a separate power outlet for your tree and another one for your lights.

Burning Candles

Regardless of what you celebrate over the holidays, there’s nothing more joyous than the soft light and sweet scent of a burning candle to set the ambience.

Sadly, however, they are also a leading cause of household fires during the holiday season. If they come in contact with the edge of a curtain or a stray piece of tinsel, the next thing you know you’ve got a serious blaze on your hands.

So, if you love setting the festive mood with scented candles or tea lights, be sure to:

  • Always use a heat resistant candle holder or placemat beneath the burning candle.
  • Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, out of the way of draughts and air vents.
  • Not ever burn candles near flammable items such as curtains.
  • Never burn clusters of candles together to avoid extreme heat.
  • Leave a candle where it’s placed once it’s lit and don’t move it.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended and always extinguish them before going to sleep.

If you’re concerned about candles, especially around children and pets, then consider replacing your wax candles with LED candles for the same effect without the risk.

Choking hazards

Watching kids open their presents is a delight, but even these most joyous of gifts present their own set of risks.

The coin-sized lithium batteries that come with older children’s toys are a choking hazard for younger children. As are the small removable parts that you find with many toys.

Only choose age appropriate toys for your kids. If you’re unsure whether an object is a choking hazard, download the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s DIY choke check safety tool.

‘Tis the season to be jolly. So, after you’ve taken all the right precautions to help you and your loved ones stay safe, enjoy the holiday season spending time with family and friends.

This page provides general advice only.  For up-to-date and specific advice relating to the risks in your area please speak to your local council or emergency services.
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