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FRNSW warns safety shortcuts this festive season could cause a Christmas catastrophe

Confronting new video from Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) demonstrates just how quickly Christmas decorations can become fire hazards, with the potential to destroy a home faster than it takes to microwave your festive lunch leftovers.

The controlled demonstration video shows a power board arcing and igniting, due to an overload of household appliances and Christmas lights, before causing the entire room to explode in flames in less than three minutes.

FRNSW wants to prevent Christmas catastrophes and is urging people to prioritise safety as they decorate their homes.

The safety advice includes:
·      Don’t overload power boards when setting up lights and other electrical displays. Only one item per power socket and don’t piggyback double adaptors;
·      Use overload protected power boards for maximum safety, ensure it has both overload protection and earth leakage protection devices incorporated;
·      Follow manufacturer’s instructions for use and only use decorative lights that have an Australian Standards label; ·      **If in doubt, replace the lights. **Check lights and electronic decorations for faults, frayed cords and worn plugs;
·      Keep hot lights away from children and flammable materials such as wrapping paper, decorations or curtains and don’t leave burning candles unattended;
·      Keep candles in a safe position away from Christmas trees or other flammable material and out of reach of children. Extinguish them if you leave the room and always before going to bed;
·      Switch off all electrical displays and decorative lights before going to bed;
·      Ensure your home is fitted with working smoke alarms that are tested regularly and are supported by a written home escape plan in case of fire; and
·      Water real pine Christmas trees to prevent them drying out and becoming a combustible item.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said FRNSW’s advice simple to implement and can save lives.

“Christmas is a time to celebrate with loved ones however it also comes with increased risk, especially around fire hazards in the home,” Ms Cooke said.

“Seeing how quickly a Christmas tree can go up in flames is a reminder of how suddenly an emergency can unfold, so please don’t be complacent. We want everyone to enjoy Christmas after what’s been a difficult year for communities across NSW.”

FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said don’t risk it this Christmas, we want everyone to enjoy a safe and happy festive season.

“These simple steps will help keep you, your family and loved ones out of harm,” Commissioner Baxter said.

“Be aware and prepare for those ever-present dangers to ensure that the only surprise left for you under the tree this Christmas is from Santa.”

EDITORS NOTE: Footage of the Christmas tree burn is available here:

Read more about this incident and others here