Fire safety is always a precaution for any employer, but particularly around the time of Christmas whilst we decorate our offices or business premises to get involved with the festivities.
Extra care and duty should be taken to ensure fire safety this Christmas, with increased consideration for fire hazards and better awareness of the prevention methods, including routine Electrical PAT Testing and Fire Alarm Maintenance. There are much higher fire risks present during this time of the year so it is crucial you are even more vigilant during this period. The Christmas festivities are definitely not a time to become less relaxed with your fire safety procedures!
In this article, we talk you through why fire safety is important and the best fire safety tips to ensure that your colleagues and customers are safe in your business premises this Christmas.
Check your Christmas lights
With Christmas lights being sold in virtually most supermarkets, discount shops or even online, it’s vital to ensure that your Christmas lights are safe to use. All Christmas lights must carry the British Safety Standard sign, which means that they are compatible with the Health and Safety standards within the UK.
It’s a common myth that Christmas lights do not need to be PAT tested, whilst this is true for domestic use, it is important when in a commercial environment. Use your own judgement to check for obvious signs of damage or fraying within the wires. It’s important to remember that it’s much safer to dispose of damaged Christmas lights than to risk it and reuse them.
Christmas lights cause around 20 house fires each year in the UK, so make sure you buy your lights from a reputable store. If it can happen at home, then it can happen at work too!
Office Christmas Tree? Make Sure It’s Watered!
With around 7 million real Christmas trees purchased each year in the UK, it is essential that all buyers are aware of the fire risks and the safety prevention methods.
Did you know? The average Christmas tree (measuring six feet) can drink up to two litres of water per day, which equals to around three pints.
On average, there are around 49 Christmas tree fires each year in the UK. Trees need to be watered on a daily basis. This isn’t just to keep your tree fresh and prevent it from drying out, but to protect your office too.
The video below shows a recording of two Christmas trees which set on fire due to faulty Christmas lights. Both trees were purchased on the same day, with one having received sufficient water each day and the other receiving none.
The tree which received no water engulfed the room in flames within seconds, whereas the watered tree had a confined and controllable flame which could very easily be extinguished. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room, so watering your tree can prevent these flames from becoming uncontrollable.
Switch off and unplug
It’s extremely dangerous to leave any electrical appliance on for prolonged periods of time or even overnight, so your Christmas fairy lights should be no exception. Leaving fairy lights on overnight can pose the risk of overheating, therefore, causing a fire.
The safest step to take before leaving the office in the evening is to switch off all electrical items. For Christmas lights, the safest thing to do is to unplug them altogether when not in use.
During the Christmas period, it’s very likely that your sockets and extension cables will be getting much more use than during other months. Make sure not to overload sockets or extension cables but also check the wattage of each individual appliance, as you should only have one plug per socket.
All Christmas decorations should be kept away from anything flammable, particularly as most decorations are made from paper or card.
In the office, this would mean keeping decorations away from computers to prevent the risk of overheating and catching fire. It also means keeping decorations away from light fittings, heaters and any other heat sources.
Keep fire exits clear
Just with any fire plan for your office, the correct measures and steps should be taken even during the festive period. Christmas can be a busier time for a lot of businesses with more people visiting retail units, offices or general business premises.
This is why you should keep all fire exits and paths clear so that your colleagues can easily escape in the event of a fire. This involves removing decorations from blocking the fire exits and having clear exit routes.
As an employer, it’s your legal duty to ensure the safe evacuation of everyone that walks into your premises should a fire break out. For this reason, a comprehensive fire evacuation plan is crucial.
Test, test and test!
Using more electrical items is inevitable in December, although this does pose a higher risk of an office fire. All fire alarms should be tested on a monthly basis. If the correct measures are in place when an emergency occurs, all people in the premises will be able to exit safely.
Wishing you a safe and happy Christmas
Protecting your business premises and your employees is your duty of care. By law, you are required to have fire extinguishers in accordance with BS5306 and to have them serviced annually, alongside fully functioning fire alarms which are tested monthly.
However big or small your business, Banner Fire and Security is on hand to supply and maintain your fire extinguishers at extremely competitive rates. Safeguarding your business premises can be the difference between life and death, so it’s important to remain vigilant and aware of your fire safety procedures at all times of the year. All it takes is a little extra care and more focus to completely safeguard your office and your employees from the dangers of fire.
Protect your business the right way and fire up a conversation with us today. Give us a call on 01902 700620 to see how we can help you protect your business this Christmas.