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Fire Chiefs warn about dangers of Christmas lights

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07 Dec 2015
MFB and CFA are encouraging Victorians to have a safe Christmas but make sure celebrations are without sparks.

Electrical faults are one of the top three causes of house fires each year, so firefighters are encouraging families to ensure their Christmas tree and fairy lights are used safely.

MFB Chief Officer Peter Rau urged people to avoid overloading power boards.

“For families that like to hang indoor or outdoor fairy light displays, there are a few rules to follow,” Mr Rau said.

“Use no more than three standard size sets of lights per power board, and make sure that electric cords are not covered by a rug or mat.

“When setting up your lights, check they are in good working order and are untangled before hanging them on your tree.”

CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone said Christmas lights left on for extended periods of time could be dangerous and risked overheating.

“A better option is the battery-operated LED lights, which don’t require electricity; they are low-voltage and most importantly give off little heat. This also avoids the temptation to overload power boards,” Mr Buffone said.

“While the number of fires caused by Christmas lights is low there is still the potential for incidents to be severe due to the combustible material these lights are attached to, such as a dry Christmas tree.

“We want Victorians to have a safe and happy Christmas, and just a few simple safety measures can ensure safe celebrations.”

Top tips to keep fire out of your home this Christmas:

  1. Inspect your Christmas lights and fairy lights for any sign of damage or wear and tear.
  2. Don’t use light sets with missing globes.
  3. LED Christmas lights do not get as hot and use less power.
  4. Use no more than three sets of lights per power board, even if there are four or more outlets on it. Avoid using double adaptors.
  5. Make sure electric cords are completely uncoiled and are not placed under rugs or mats.
  6. Place your tree as far as possible from any heat source, curtains or furnishings.
  7. Maintain water in the base of natural Christmas trees to stop them drying out and remove lights once they show signs of drying. 
  8. Take care with candles, incense sticks and oil burners. Always make sure they are away from flammable items such as curtains and that they cannot be knocked over.
  9. Always keep matches, candles and lighters away from infants and small children.
  10. Check that your smoke alarms are working. Christmas tree fires can generate a lot of heat quickly and spread to the rest of the house.


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