Residents across Norfolk are being reminded to take extra care to keep their families safe at home this Christmas.
Two house fires this week, attended by Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service, have involved Christmas decorations, highlighting the dangers of leaving decorations unattended or unprotected.
The first fire, in Dereham, was caused by a dog chewing through the wire of lights on a tree. This led to the whole tree catching fire in moments. Major damage was avoided as the resident threw the tree outside and evacuated her young family from the smoke-filled flat. Two Dereham fire crews attended and extinguished the fire.
The second fire, in Felthorpe, was started by a candle, which was accidentally left alight overnight. Neighbours were alerted by a smoke alarm and noticed smoke early the next morning. Thankfully the residents were unharmed, but extensive smoke damage was caused throughout the home. Fire engines from Sprowston and Earlham attended this house fire and wore breathing apparatus and used main jets and hose reel jets to extinguish the fire, which caused extensive smoke damage throughout the property.
Chief Fire Officer Stuart Ruff said: “This house fire shows the importance of having correctly installed, working fire alarms. It takes one minute to check the alarms in your house each week, but could be something that saves lives in an emergency. Our advice is to keep real Christmas trees well-watered, not to overload plug sockets, and consider whether lights or trees are vulnerable to pets or young children.”
Candle related fires result in around 350 casualties each year nationally and 40% of candle fires result in injury or death. More than 1,000 home insurance claims for house fires are caused by candles each year and the time between Christmas and New Year accounts for nearly half of all candle related fire claims during December.
Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships at Norfolk County Council, said “At this time of year we all love to adorn our houses with festive decorations, but we must make sure we’re doing it safely and responsibly. These two incidents are examples of why we need to take care and be safe. We all have to be extra vigilant to keep ourselves safe at this time of year with the increased risk of decorations and candles.”
Residents are advised to:
- Test smoke alarms throughout the house weekly
- Double check that any candles are safely positioned and blown out when no longer being used
- Check the safety of decorations, especially lights, and ensure that they’re out of reach of pets and young children
- Discuss fire safety plans with the whole family and ensure everyone knows what to do in case of emergency
- You can find more information about Candle safety on the Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service website
Electrical usage in the home also increases at this time of year, find details and electrical safety videos here.
For more information, go to www.norfolk.gov.uk/safety/norfolk-fire-and-rescue-service