Fire risk spikes during Festive Season

12 December 2016

Last December there was an average of 102 house fires in England every day; Electrical Safety First is reminding people to take extra care around electricity at this time of year

12 December 2016

This festive season, Electrical Safety First is asking people to take no chances with their safety. The number of accidental fires in the home spiked last December, with an average of 102 fires per day in England[i]. This was an 11% increase on the average number of fires during other months of the year.

Electrical safety is important all year round, but during the festive season there can be more risks of electrical dangers, from flashing Christmas lights on all day to new electrical gadgets charging and taking up more electrical sockets.

“While we don’t want to dampen the Christmas cheer, we do need to make people aware of the dangers posed electrical dangers in the house,” explains Phil Buckle, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First“This time of year is always busy, but we urge everyone to take the time to check your Christmas lights before you put them up.  Lights that are damaged, old, misused, or plugged into overloaded adaptors or extension leads can cause electric shock or fire. If you are unsure about the safety of your lights, buy new ones.  They won’t break the bank, but they could make a big difference to your Christmas.”

When buying replacement Christmas lights, Electrical Safety First recommends getting LEDs, as they use significantly less electricity than traditional filament lights. LED lights are less likely to overheat and cause fire and, as they operate at extra low voltage, there is much less chance of getting an electric shock.

The Noonan family from Wirral know just how much destruction Christmas lights can cause. Last December, Tony and Susan Noonan, along with their two sons were left with a destroyed home when their Christmas lights caught fire. Susan was home alone one evening when the fire started.

 “I was on my own in the house in the kitchen when the smoke alarm went off. Expecting it to be a false alarm, I went into the living room to discover my husband’s chair covered in flames. First, I tried tackling the fire with a cushion, but as the flames grew I ran outside and shouted for help. Luckily a passer-by called the fire brigade.

“The fire services told us that the cause of the fire was our Christmas lights which were next to the chair. It’s hard to believe that a set of lights could cause that much damage and distress. We’re back in our home one year on, and although we put up our Christmas decorations, we’ve decided not to have lights this year. ”

The family stayed in temporary accommodation for five months, while £55,000 worth of damage was repaired and replaced. Rooms needed re-plastering, furniture was damaged, ceilings and windows required replacing and sentimental items were destroyed.

Phil Buckle, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First, added “Luckily, Susan and her family escaped from this devastating fire unharmed but we would like to ensure that no other family has an experience like theirs this Christmas”, adds Phil Buckle. “This month, we’re urging people to take extra care to use electricity wisely – before you use Christmas lights check that they are safe, turn them off when you are not around to enjoy them and be alert to potential electrical dangers around the home.”

For advice on how to keep you and your loved ones safe this Christmas visit:


For more information please contact:

Muireann Kirby  t: 0203 463 5105 m:078 52257017

Christina Copp  e:  t: 020 3463 5129 m: 078 6670 2069

Notes to editors

  • Electrical Safety First is the UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents. We campaign to improve safety regulation and messages, and provide expert information and advice to the public and professionals to help ensure everyone in the UK can use electricity safely. Visit for more information.
  • Our case study has supplied images of the damage a set of Christmas lights can cause. The images are available for download here.

Electrical Safety First’s Top five Tips for Christmas

  1. Even Christmas lights need a break – switch them off when you’re not there to enjoy them
  2. Don’t get distracted when you’re cooking Christmas dinner – with half of house fires starting in the kitchen, it’s more than the turkey that’s at risk of burning.
  3. Don’t overload sockets and try to avoid the use of extension leads or adaptors
  4. If you’ve got a new electrical gadget for Christmas that needs charging, don’t rely on a cheap, unbranded charger or leave it charging unattended
  5. Make sure you buy your presents and your sale bargains from retailers you trust – remember, if that bargain looks too good to be true, then it probably is!