Are Christmas Trees a Fire Hazard?

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How to avoid your festive decorations from making this Christmas your last this season.

Christmas is a time to be merry and get into the festive spirit, and your workplace is no exception. However, you must remember that decorations and trees can easily become a fire hazard. It’s very important to check your fixtures and to ensure they do not become a hazard this holiday season; here are a few pointers on how to avoid dangers in the workplace, or indeed at home.

Below is a video by FireKillsCampaign. This shows your average Christmas tree and what happens when you don’t take care. This may change your mind about leaving the presents under the tree...

So, how can you ensure that your business remains safe this Christmas?

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

As demonstrated above, overloading power sockets and leaving your lights on unattended is extremely dangerous. These are the main causes for tree related fires and could cause your Christmas tree to go up in flames within 60 seconds. Whilst they are lovely to look at, make a note to turn off your Christmas lights before leaving work or going to bed when at home - it could save lives.

Please ensure your electrical equipment has been PAT tested for the work place. This is a legal requirement in the UK. For more information about checking for electrical conditions and safety in the work place; see our PAT Testing article.

Decorations are often made of flammable materials such as paper or plastic, so chooses carefully. Candles anywhere near the tree are definitely to be avoided!

WHICH TYPE OF TREE?

Artificial trees can be convenient but can lead to devastating results if not taken care of. Once ablaze they can let off thick black smoke and toxic fumes, so it’s not just the fire that can kill you. No British Standard specifically covers the flammability of artificial trees. However, BS 9999, Code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings, section D.3.6 'Furnishings, fabrics and decorative features', indicates that such features should be 'non-combustible' or conform to BS 5867-2 (a Standard for drapes and curtains), 'type B' which refers to ignition resistance. If you have an artificial tree, check to see that it is flame retardant.

Many prefer a natural tree, and although a dry tree is definitely a hazard, a live tree can be watered and reduce the risk of catching fire. A purpose made base that holds the tree secure within a water reservoir is a good option. However a standard tree can consume a gallon of water within 24 hours, so check yours daily. Additionally, the higher the room temperature then the quicker the tree can dry out. Make sure you unplug any electrical outlets before adding water to the container!

USE YOUR HEATERS VIGILANTLY

Winter is a cold season but never leave portable heaters unattended.
These units are so useful to heat up your living spaces to get that warm and cosy feeling but your decorations can burn very easily. If you fall asleep when these units are active or leave the room, always turn the heaters off. Never attach decorations to these units and watch out if you are using the same outlet for your decorations.

Accidents happen – to avoid this we ask that you check all of your fire safety equipment and electrical appliances. If you are not up to date then consult our Products Page.

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