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Christmas Day sees spike in house fires

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The fire service is more likely to be called out to properties on the 25th December than any other day of the month.

Christmas Day sees a 12% spike in call outs compared to the monthly average and over the last three years, fire crews dealt with 2,300 fires on this day alone.

Most fires (70%) are caused by household appliances but 11% are caused by Christmas-related items, according to the research by Direct Line home insurance.

In 2018, candles (56%) were the most common cause of festive-related fires, with open fires accounting for 29% and indoor Christmas lights representing 10%.

People admit to overloading power sockets with indoor and outdoor Christmas lights, and taking unnecessary risk to make their homes look festive by hanging stockings, Christmas cards and decorations in front of a working fireplace. Other dangers taken by families include putting presents in front of working fireplaces or placing lit candles beneath, next to or on Christmas trees.

When it comes to location, London Fire Brigade saw the greatest number of callouts during December over the last three years, almost 14,000. This is nearly 3.5 times the number received by the fire service with the second-highest number of callouts in December, Greater Manchester. They dealt with 3,879 call outs from 2016-2018.

Dan Simson, head of Direct Line home insurance, said: “An unusually high number of house fires take place on Christmas Day, although with so much going on, it is easy to see how accidents could happen.

“While we all want our homes to feel cosy and festive at Christmas, we encourage everyone to put safety ahead of what their home looks like and think about what a potential hazard could be. No one wants to have to leave their home over Christmas.”

Steve Skarratt, head of prevention and protection training at the Fire Service College, added: “While fire safety at home is important at any time, there is a need for a greater focus over the Christmas period.

“We would advise everyone to test their smoke alarm regularly and keep doors closed at night to prevent the spread of fire or smoke, making sure they have an exit route planned in case there is a fire.

“Make sure any candles are placed on a stable surface and away from anything flammable, especially the Christmas tree and are extinguished when leaving the room. When preparing food, don’t leave hobs unattended and when putting lights up, remember that too many plugs in one socket is dangerous and unplug or turn them off at the wall at night and when leaving the house.”