Stay fire safe during the festive season

Christmas decorations

Christmas can be a special time for celebration but many of the decorations we enjoy over the period can be fire hazards if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

Here are some tips to help you and your family stay fire safe this season. For more fantastic advice on keeping your home safe throughout the year, visit the London Fire Brigade website (opens new window).

Candles and incense

Did you know that candles are one of the most common causes of home fires? According to the London Fire Brigade, over 200 fires were started by candles in homes last year.

  • ensure you put out any candles, incense and oil burners when you leave the room and especially before bed
  • these items should always be held firmly in heat-resistant holders and placed on a stable surface where they won’t be knocked over
  • keep them away from materials that might catch fire – e.g. curtains, furniture, clothes and hair
  • be especially careful if you have a lot of flammable items in your home, such as books, magazines or papers
  • tea lights get very hot and, without proper holders, can melt through plastic surfaces like a TV or bath
  • to avoid accidents keep candles and other naked flames out of reach of children and pets
  • try LED candles – they're safe even if you fall asleep or forget to blow them out! 

Fairy lights

  • check the fuses are the right type (see the box for the maximum size of fuse you should use)
  • if the bulbs blow, replace them
  • don’t leave fairy lights on when you go out or when you go to sleep
  • don’t let the bulbs touch anything that can burn easily, such as paper, books, etc
  • don’t overload sockets with too many plugs.


  • decorations made of light tissue paper or cardboard burn easily, so ensure they are far from any lights or candles
  • don’t attach decorations, plastic or otherwise, to lights or heaters as they can melt or catch fire
  • don’t put decorations immediately above or around a working fireplace.

Christmas trees

Are you getting a live tree? Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.

  • only use fresh trees, not old ones, which are more flammable – the trunk should be sticky and the needs green and hard to pull back from the branches
  • if many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard
  • do not place your tree close to a heat source, such as a heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks
  • be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree
  • do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks
  • keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Visit the London Fire Brigade website (opens new window)  for more tips on looking after your home