Christmas and fairy lights are once again spreading their festive cheer across Victoria, sparking a reminder from firefighters to take proper precautions to avoid starting a fire.
CFA and Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) encouraged Victorians to check all festive lights before switching them on.
CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said electrical fires were among the top causes of house fires each year.
“These can easily be avoided by following some simple steps to make sure it’s only the big man in red that visits this Christmas, not a big red fire truck,” he said.
“Before putting up your Christmas lights, check that the lights are in good working order and have no missing bulbs or frayed cords.
“Don’t overload power boards, and make sure that electrical cords are not covered by a rug or mat.
“Never place lights too close to tinsel or flammable decorations, and make sure you turn your Christmas lights off when leaving the house or before going to bed to ensure they don’t overheat.”
In addition to ensuring Christmas lights are safe, Cook urged Victorians to take care with candles this festive season and make sure that they can’t be knocked over by people or pets and are not too close to flammable items such as curtains.
“It’s also extremely important to always keep matches, candles and lighters away from infants and small children,” he said.
Fire Rescue Commissioner Ken Block said it was vital homes had working smoke alarms that would alert residents in the event of a fire.
“The top of our wish list is seeing Victorians celebrate Christmas safely,” Commissioner Block said.
“Take some simple steps to ensure one of the most joyful times of the year isn’t ruined by fires, injuries or worse – especially when it can be avoided.
“If you’re stuck for a gift idea, why not consider a smoke alarm, fire extinguisher or fire blanket? These are practical and useful gifts that can be purchased from your local hardware store.
“Smoke alarms are life-saving devices, and Victorian firefighters recommend they are installed in every living room, bedroom and hallway.”
Additional Christmas lights safety tips:
• When buying Christmas lights, make sure they have the Regulatory Compliance Mark tick of approval.
• Consider using battery-operated LED or solar lights which don’t require electricity.
• When decorating the outside of your home, only choose lights and fittings designed for external use.
• Make sure you have a safety switch in your meter box or have a qualified electrician install one.
• Place your tree as far as possible from any heat source, curtains or furnishings.
• Maintain water in the base of natural Christmas trees to stop them drying out and remove lights once they show signs of drying.
• Make sure you have working smoke alarms in all bedrooms, living areas and hallways. Ideally, smoke alarms are interconnected, which means if a fire in one room sets off one smoke alarm, all alarms will activate.