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Fire safety tips this Christmas season

02 Dec 2020

With Christmas trees and decorations appearing around town, and summer holiday’s getting closer, there are some important things to remember to keep this season as cheerful as possible.

To help keep you safe this festive season ICNZ has put together a list of Christmas Fire Safety tips. Also check out the Fire and Emergency website for resources and advice to follow to be fire safe over summer.

While these simple tips can help prevent a fire, it’s a good time to make sure you have the right level of insurance in place so if the worst happens you can get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Being fire safe with your Christmas tree and decorations

Nothing quite evokes the Christmas spirt like sparkling lights and a decorated tree. Here are some tips to ensure you avoid unwanted fires:

  • Check last year’s lights are still safe – look for split or cracked wiring, bent plug prongs or damaged bulbs. If there are any inconsistencies or damage to the lights, do not use them
  • Only use indoor lights inside, and outdoor lights outside – and get an outdoor plug installed which will also help deter burglars
  • Don’t overload plugs boards and extension leads with too many lights or powered devices – this can cause overheating that can result in fires
  • For outdoor decorations, clear away combustible debris like leaves, overhanging shrubbery, or spider webs before hanging or placing decorations. It also pays to fasten decorations and lights securely to avoid damage from the wind or ‘man made’ damages
  • Use an RCD (residual current device) for all outdoor power cords, and dispose of it correctly after a month as they can deteriorate after being exposed to the elements
  • If you are using lights at work, make sure they are tested and tagged before use
  • Choose an artificial tree that’s flame resistant, and select ornaments that are hardy and non-combustible
  • If you have a real Christmas tree place it in a safe place away from extension cords, exits, and flammable objects, and water it regularly to keep it from drying out
  • Turn off lights – inside and out – when you go to bed, that includes blowing out any candles.

Seasonal fire safety tips

The holiday season in New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without BBQ’s and camping trips to make the most of the summer months. With this summer forecast to be warmer and dryer in places there are some important steps to take to remain fire safe.

BBQ’s:

  • Treat your BBQ the same way you would a stove: don't drink and fry and avoid leaving cooking unattended.
  • Ensure you regularly check and maintain fittings and connections, leave clear space around it, remove nearby debris, and clean excess fat after each use.
  • If using a charcoal or wood fire BBQ, first check with your local Council for any Fire Permits that may be required on any bans on open fire use. Avoid using if windy. Dispose of ash only after all hot embers are gone (usually 12 hours or more) and be sure to have a fire extinguisher close by.

Fireworks:

  • Planning to light fireworks over New Years? Don’t if its windy, dry, or if there is a fire ban follow instructions and keep water or a fire extinguisher handy

Camping, tramping or hunting:

  • Check the Fire and Emergency New Zealand website for fire season conditions and if you need a permit
  • Find out if there are rules about lighting your fire where you’re camping – if you are allowed choose a site away from tents, vehicles, overhanging branches and anything else that could catch fire
  • Never leave your campfire unattended, and put it out if the wind speed or direction changes and makes it unsafe
  • Douse the fire with lots of water or use dirt to put out the embers. Don’t bury your campfire as the embers can smoulder and reignite.
  • If you’re tramping or hunting always check the fire season before you go. Carry a shovel, water and a fire extinguisher if possible. Find more specific hunting advice on Fire and Emergency – hunting