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Ensure your tree sparkles for the right reasons

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16 Dec 2013
MFB and CFA are encouraging families to have a closer look at their Christmas tree or fairy lights this year.

CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said electrical faults were one of the top three causes of house fires each year, with overloaded power boards a common problem. 

“For families that like to hang indoor or outdoor fairy light displays, there are a few simple rules to follow to make sure the fire brigade will not be visiting your home this festive season,” Mr Ferguson said.

“Even if there are four or more outlets on your power board, there should be no more than three sets of lights per power board, and you should never use double adaptors.

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

MFB Acting Chief Officer Peter Rau said people need to remember that when left on for an extended period of time Christmas lights can overheat. 

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

“While the number of fires caused by Christmas lights can be quite low, the impacts can be devastating,” he said.

In the past three years the two most serious incidents involved Christmas lights attached to a structure and in one instance, a house was destroyed by a resulting fire.

“There is the potential for incidents involving Christmas lights to be quite severe due to the combustible material these lights are attached to such as a dried Christmas tree,” Mr Rau said.

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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