Let’s celebrate safely this Christmas

Cavan County Fire Service has issued a fire safety message for the festive season. Christmas is a time for family, for friends, for gratitude and for giving. Unfortunately, it’s also a period when we see an increase in the number of fires occurring across County Cavan.

The onset of colder temperatures, over-zealous seasonal merriment, and the proliferation of candles, electric lights, and Christmas trees in the home, are all hazards that increase the risk of domestic fire incidents.

Noel O’Reilly, Chief Fire Officer with Cavan County Fire Service, warned of the importance of vigilance: “By taking some simple precautions, we can all do our bit to ensure that this Christmas is memorable for all the right reasons.”

Top tips

- Never leave candles unattended, or near to anything flammable such as curtains. Consider LED candles a much safer alternative, and they last longer too!

- Make sure your chimney has been cleaned before you light an open fire in your home. Chimney fires can quickly spread into your roof and cause catastrophic damage to your home.

- Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide alarm and a working smoke alarm on every floor. Test them regularly – make ‘Test It Tuesday’ a part of your weekly routine.

- Buy your Christmas lights from a reputable retailer. These lights are more likely to meet electrical safety standards, compared to ‘cheap and cheerful’ lights bought online. Avoid using old sets that may have frayed cords, damaged plugs, missing bulbs and other faults that can cause fires. Newer LED lights are a safer option.

- Dried out ‘real’ Christmas trees are notoriously flammable. Look for fresher trees with green needles that don’t fall out easily and keep the tree stand filled with water. An artificial tree labelled as fire-resistant is also a safer option.

- Alcohol consumption in the home increases during the festive period. Avoid the temptation to cook up a storm after a few hot ports – alcohol and frying pans are a lethal combination.

- Try to smoke cigarettes outside. Cigarette butts are a significant cause of domestic house fires. Buy the smoker in your life a warm jumper for Christmas if they complain about the cold!

- Avoid using generic chargers for tablets and phones, and always charge devices during the day on a hard surface.

- With family visiting, there will likely be many devices on the go. Avoid overloading sockets.

- Close doors at night. In the event of a fire, a closed door will give your family more time to safely escape.

- Practice your escape route with your family.

- In the event of fire, get out, stay out, and get the fire brigade out by calling 112 or 999.

- In addition to fire incidents, our firefighters attend a lot of road traffic collisions in the winter months. Please take care to reduce speed, drive according to the conditions, and never, ever drink and drive.

"Take it from us, the devastation that is wrought by a collision is just not worth it," said the Chief Fire Officer.

"Christmas is a time to be enjoyed, not feared, but we all need to be vigilant with regard to the risks that exist. By applying a common-sense approach to our Christmas celebrations, we can provide a safe and secure environment for our loved ones to enjoy this magical time of year.

On behalf of all the management and staff of Cavan County Fire Service, and our ten fire brigades that will be on-call 24-7 throughout the festive season, I wish you and yours and very happy Christmas," concluded Noel.