Don’t let fire put a dampener on your celebrations this Christmas

Christmas safety cropped

Present-wrapping, decorating your home and Christmas dinner will hopefully take our minds off other concerns this yuletide.

But Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and the national Fire Kills campaign is reminding people that fire safety always needs to stay high on their Christmas lists, despite the current high cost of living.

While fire safety is vital throughout the year, the extra distractions of Christmas make it especially important to be vigilant, so HWFRS is asking people to take extra care over the festive season to avoid a fire.

Last Christmas, between 24 December 2021 and midnight on 1 January 2022, we attended more than 150 incidents in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, including 24 fires and 80 false alarms (over half of all callouts).

Two of the main fire locations were the kitchen and the bedroom, with reasons being faulty fuel supply (electricity), overheating of equipment and cooking.

On the roads, the Service responded to 12 road traffic collisions with five people injured.

Emma Roberts HWFRS Head of Prevention, said:

Christmas is a time for festive cheer with family. But fairy lights, candles and decorations mean it is also a time to take extra care to keep our loved ones safe from fire.

“Make sure you place candles in suitable holders and away from curtains and, at this time of year, from Christmas decorations, never leave cooking unattended, especially with so much more food than usual on the go, and of course, test your smoke alarms.

“The colder weather brings its own menaces, too. Take care when using portable heaters or open fires to keep warm.”

Here are some simple tips from the Fire Kills campaign to help you and your family enjoy Christmas safely:

  • Check your Christmas tree lights carry the British Safety Standard sign
  • Never leave cooking unattended, especially the extra quantities for a Christmas meal and avoid cooking while under the influence of alcohol
  • Always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking – the majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high-risk area
  • Take care when cooking with hot oil instead of using a chip pan. Why not use a temperature-controlled deep fat fryer or cook chips in an oven.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended. Keep candles out of the reach of children, and away from decorations, cards and wrapping paper, fires, lights and heaters
  • Put your cigarette out, right out. Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished and take care when under the influence of alcohol or tired. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight
  • Never use heaters to dry clothes. Heaters can start fires when things are placed too close to them. Keep them well away from curtains, clothing and furniture
  • Don’t overload electric sockets. Ensure only one plug per socket. Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers
  • Ensure you check your fairy lights are in good working order: switch them off and unplug them before you go to bed or leave the house
  • And remember to check they conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598) and are in good working order before use
  • Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment. This safety device can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault and can be found in any reputable DIY store
  • Do something good this Christmas. Test the smoke alarms of someone you know who may need help such as an older relative or neighbour to ensure their safety
  • Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire – in the event of fire you should Get out, Stay out and Call 999
  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms installed on all levels of your home. Test them regularly and never remove batteries
  • Why not watch the Fire Kills campaign’s short Christmas Tree video at: to see how quickly a fire can spread?
  • You can also check out: Fire safety when celebrating
    Top Tips to help make sure your Christmas is a safe one
  • Avoid burst pipes during ultra low temperatures the recent extremely cold weather has caused a spate of burst pipes leading to flooding in homes, so monitor weather forecasts at Weather and climate change – Met Office and seek a registered plumber’s advice
    if you’re unsure about your plumbing

Emma added:

“Don’t be tempted to cut corners on safety to bring down your energy bills over the Christmas break to help cope with the current cost of living such as alternative ways of heating and lighting homes, with the increased dangers of fires and other incidents.

“People can complete a FREE online home fire safety check for themselves or loved ones – find it at We may also be able to visit your home to provide help and advice.

“A wealth of safety guidance is available on our website at and
including smoke alarm checks, heating appliance safety and safe boiler servicing.

You can also contact our Prevention Team on 0800 032 1155 to see if you qualify for a free Home Fire Safety visit.

“From everyone at the HWFRS Prevention Team, we wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas.”