The dangers of Christmas lights

QUEANBEYAN Fire Brigade station officer Gary Dickhas warned residents to be careful when decorating their homes this Christmas to ensure disaster doesn’t strike this festive season.

Station Officer Dick said householders putting up their Christmas trees, lights and decorations should be mindful that overloading and failing to check power boards and power points were real fire safety risks.

“The use of decorative lights and candles, piggy-backing double adapters and using electrical cords and plugs that have been packed away for 12 months all have the potential to cause a fire in the home,” he said.

“Checking lights and other decorations is a simple but effective way to prevent a household fire this festive season.”

There were 902 residential fires between December 1, 2012 and January 31, 2013, during which 98 people were injured and, tragically, four people died.

At least 128 of those fires involved electrical equipment and at least 12 were caused by candles.

“Getting into the spirit of Christmas with lots of lights and other accessories is great fun but over-enthusiastic decorating can lead to overloaded electrical circuits,” station officer Gary Dick said.

“We don’t want anyone to have their Christmas spoilt by a trip to the hospital because of accidents in the home that are easily preventable – don’t be left frazzled by the dazzle.”

Festive fire safety tips:

Check lights and electrical decorations for faults, worn plugs and frayed cords.

When you’re setting up fairy lights and other electrical decorative ornaments make sure you use only one item per power socket. For maximum safety, if you use a power board ensure it has overload protection.

Only use decorative lights that have an Australian Standards label.

Inspect the plugs and leads of used decorative lights to ensure they are in good working order. If in doubt, replace the lights.

Never use Christmas lights designed for indoor use in outdoor settings.

Lights can become hot and candles can cause a fire so don’t place them near paper trimmings, decorations or curtains and don’t leave burning candles unattended.

Immediately call Triple Zero (000) and ask for the fire service if a fire breaks out - make sure that everybody moves outside to safety.

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