Jane Embury takes a look at fire safety in our homes this Christmas.
This week, half a million washing machines in UK homes are to be recalled because of fire safety concerns.
The Hotpoint or Indesit machines, sold for more than five years, have a door locking system that can overheat creating the risk of fire.
While our business at Wrightstyle is mainly outside the residential sector, we do supply to it from time to time. Recent residential projects have also taken place in New Zealand and Hong Kong.
The washing machine recall underlines how domestic fires can start from many sources at any time of year.
But fire risk rises over the Festive period, with many homes decorated with paper decorations, candles and, of course, Christmas trees.
Take a look at this video from the London Fire Brigade showing the alarming speed at which a Christmas tree can burn.
America’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has also made an alarming video advising us to water our Christmas trees.
However, don’t be stupid. Several dozen UK citizens have died over the past 15 years by watering their Christmas tree while the Christmas lights were plugged in.
The main culprit for Christmas tree fires is faulty lights. It happened recently to a couple and their children from Long Eaton, Derbyshire. They lost everything.
The lessons are to have LED lights which don’t emit heat, and to switch them off at night. And don’t position the tree next to flammable materials such as curtains.
This kind of advice isn’t new. In 1936, the Yorkshire Evening Post printed a list of Do’s and Don’ts for Christmas safety, including not hanging naked lights on the Christmas tree, and not using cotton-wool for fake snow.
Also, don’t overload sockets and make sure that every plug has an appropriate fuse.
Another fire risk are candles. The London Fire Brigade says that there are an average of 21 candle fires a month between February and October. But that rises to 29 fires a month during November, December and January.
Most risks can easily be anticipated and avoided – keeping stairs clutter-free, for example. Yet there are some 1,000 injuries each year from Christmas trees, including falls and cuts from broken glass ornaments.
Tragically, people are 50% more likely to die in a house fire over Christmas than at any other time of year. Faulty wiring, overloaded sockets and unattended candles are the main culprits.
As international specialists in advanced glazing systems, mainly to contain fire and protect escape routes, we wholeheartedly endorse fire safety advice.
We know how most fires start from only the smallest of causes – from example, a spark from faulty wiring or a dropped cigarette – but also how fire can quickly get out of control.
But one Christmas explosive we haven’t tested against is Christmas pudding. Recently, a 49-year-old woman required hospital treatment after putting her Christmas pud in the microwave where it blew up.
The combination of fruit, sugar and water can react violently. “People must realise that they are dealing with a potential explosive when they put puddings in the microwave,” says the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
Have a happy (and safe!) Christmas.