Parents and teachers are being warned not to give their children real candles for nativities, carol concerts and other festive activities.
Events will look slightly different this year with Government restrictions in place, but some services are still due to go ahead while others could take place virtually and London Fire Brigade is concerned about the potential for injury.
The warning follows a serious accident in December last year when a child was badly burnt after his costume came into contact with a candle during a carol service in Croydon. He was in intensive care for more than a month.
School nativities and carol singing have been given the go ahead under special measures that came into force on the same day the new three-tier system was introduced.
Headteachers of schools in tiers one and two have been told they can stage events with parents attending in person, as long as social distancing is in place and children are kept in their bubbles.
The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings, said: “The horrific accident last year was a stark reminder of the risk real candles can pose and we desperately do not want to see a repeat of anything like that this year.
“Last year wasn’t the first time we had seen clothing and costumes set alight by candles and people need to be aware of the very real risk.
“Real candles are a completely unnecessary hazard when it comes to children and school events and we would encourage everyone to use much safer LED, battery-operated or electric ones instead, which take away the dangers of a naked flame.”
Over 210 candle fires in 2020
In 2020 so far, London’s firefighters have attended more than 210 fires which were started by candles or tealights and 55 people have been injured as a result of these.
Sadly, there have been 14 fatalities from fires started by candles in London in the last four years.
At this time of year, there are even more hazards around as people wear festive clothing and decorate their homes.
Assistant Commissioner Jennings added: “We would also like to remind those who are celebrating Hanukkah to make sure they don’t leave their menorahs unattended.”
If you do have real candles in your home, you must ensure they are never left unattended and that they are in a suitable fire resistant candle holder and placed on a heat resistant surface.
Candles and other naked flames should always be kept out of the reach of children and pets and should be away from materials which can catch fire such as curtains, furniture or clothes and at this time of year, decorations.
Candle safety – Are your candles safe? Read our advice now
For more information, go to www.london-fire.gov.uk