Video shows fire danger of Christmas trees

A dramatic video of how quickly a Christmas tree fire can be spread has been released to warn people not to allow tragedy to strike in their home this Christmas.

Fire safety footage released by the Fire Kills campaign on video-sharing website YouTube shows a family lounge being destroyed in just 49 seconds because of a fire sparked by faulty Christmas lights on an authentic tree. Statistics from last year show that December was one of the busiest months for firefighters in Norfolk with 46 fires.

The short film aims to hammer home the reality of increased fire risk over the festive season and people are being urged to help spread the warning to friends and family.

The one-minute video counts the seconds as the house fire rapidly spreads, reminding people just how little time they have to escape should a fire break out.

Many people are unaware of the potential fire hazards and toxic threats that can lurk in fairy lights, candles and flammable Christmas decorations. As a result Fire and Rescue Services across the country are urging people to take extra care as they get into the festive spirit this Christmas.

The government's chief fire and rescue adviser Sir Ken Knight said: 'Everyone enjoys the festive cheer that a Christmas tree and decorations can bring to a home. But the sad fact is that all this can act as extra fuel for a potential house fire. Unsafe electrical decorations, overloaded plugs and unattended candles are all potential causes of fire. Just two to three breaths of toxic smoke from a fire can render a person unconscious.'

Dry Christmas trees, decorations and wrapped presents can all provide means for a fire to spread in the home so Fire Kills have issued a list of precautions to take, as well as reminding people to test their fire alarms as soon as possible.

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To see just how quickly festive celebrations can go up in smoke this Christmas, visit www.youtube.com/ watch?v=hMtjGfr0tYs.

Fire Kills' top tips

- Ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed on all levels of your home.

-Never leave cooking unattended. Always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.

- Never leave candles unattended. Keep decorations, cards and wrapping paper away from candles, fires, lights and heaters.

- Ensure you switch off fairy lights and unplug them before you go to bed, or leave the house. Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598).

- Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment (This safety device can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault and can be found in any DIY store).

- Don't overload sockets – ensure only one plug per socket.

- Make sure cigarettes are extinguished properly and never smoke in bed.

- Check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas to ensure their safety at this time of year.

- Ask the experts –- Many fire and rescue services in England offer free home fire risk checks to identify potential fire risks.

- And finally, in the event of fire: get out, stay out and call 999.