Keep safe during the Christmas period

The UK’s leading accident prevention charity, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), has some useful home safety tips for the festive season, particularly to protect against fire. In December 2013, there were around …

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The UK’s leading accident prevention charity, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), has some useful home safety tips for the festive season, particularly to protect against fire.

In December 2013, there were around 2,700 accidental fires in the home in England – more than any other month of the year. Candles were the cause of more than a third of these fires. Fairy lights caused 10%, while Christmas trees, decorations and cards were also a fire risk and responsible for 20% of house fires.

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, said: “Christmas is a time when people tend to light candles around the house, but don’t place them near anything that can catch light, like a Christmas tree. Always use a stable candle holder and make sure to blow candles out before going to bed or leaving the house.”

“Most importantly, remember to never leave candles unattended and always out of the reach of children.”

Mark Cashin, chair of the Chief Fire Officers Association’s National Home Safety Committee, said: “Amid all the fun and festivities it’s easy to forget that there are more fire hazards in the home at Christmas than at any other time of year.

Decorations can burn easily, so don’t attach them to lights or heaters. Check your fairy lights carry the British Safety standard logo and remember to unplug them before you go to bed. Sockets should never be overloaded.

The majority of house fires start in the kitchen, so make sure your cooker is clean and clear of items like tea towels – and no matter how busy you are, never leave your cooking unattended.

  • Keep decorations and cards away from fires and heat sources, such as light fittings
  • Never leave burning candles unattended. Don’t put candles on/near Christmas trees and always extinguish them before you go to bed
  • Check the wiring on Christmas lights and think about replacing old ones which may not meet higher safety standards due to their age
  • Don’t overload electric sockets
  • Check your smoke alarm is working and never remove batteries from them to use in new toys – it could cost you your life
  • Keep the cooker clear of items including tea towels.


Christmas is a time when your home is likely to be full of people and it is in the excitement of the season that accidents can easily happen. Follow these 12 safety tips from RoSPA to help prevent your festivities being cut short by a trip to casualty:

  • Make sure you buy children’s gifts for the correct age group and from reputable sources that comply with standards (e.g. The Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011)
  • Remember to buy batteries for toys that need them – that way you won’t be tempted to remove batteries from smoke alarms
  • Look out for small items that could pose a choking hazard to young children, including parts that have fallen off toys or from Christmas trees, button batteries and burst balloons
  • Keep decorations and cards away from fires and other heat sources such as light fittings. Don’t leave burning candles unattended, make sure you put them out before going to bed and do not put candles on Christmas trees
  • If you have old Christmas lights, consider buying new ones, which will meet much higher safety standards, keep the lights switched off until the Christmas tree is decorated, don’t let children play with lights (some have swallowed the bulbs), and remember to switch off the lights when going out of the house or going to bed
  • Remember, Christmas novelties are not toys, even if they resemble them, and they do not have to comply with toy safety regulations. Give careful thought to where you display them, for example, place them high up on Christmas trees where they are out of the reach of young hands
  • Give yourself enough time to prepare and cook Christmas dinner to avoid hot fat, boiling water and sharp knife accidents that come from rushing, and keep anyone not helping with dinner out of the kitchen
  • Wipe up any spills quickly
  • Have scissors handy to open packaging, so you’re not tempted to use a knife, and have screwdrivers at the ready to assemble toys
  • Beware of trailing cables and wires in the rush to connect new gadgets and appliances, and always read instructions
  • Falls are the most common accidents so try to keep clutter to a minimum. Make sure stairs are well-lit and free from obstacles, especially if you have guest
  • Plan New Year fireworks parties well in advance and follow the Firework Safety Code
  • Do not drink and drive, and plan long journeys so you won’t be driving tired