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Householders asked to take care decorating this Christmas, as new research reveals many of us making home safety mistakes

Zurich Insurance research shows a third of Irish people overload electrical plug sockets

One in five leave their Christmas tree lights switched on overnight

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Those decorating their homes for Christmas are being asked to take extra care in doing so, as new research by Zurich Insurance reveals a large number of Irish people are neglecting common home safety hazards during the festive period.

The nationwide research shows that a third of Irish people admit to overloading electrical sockets with multiple plugs to light up trees and homes, one in five (22%) leave their Christmas tree lights on or plugged in overnight, over half (55%) hang Christmas cards over an open fire, and one in ten (10%) even leave candles lit when leaving the house.

Three in ten people (29%) are failing to place their Christmas tree a safe distance from a fire source, and while dryer trees have been shown to pose an increased fire risk, only 14% place their Christmas tree in a water source to keep it from drying out.

The research comes as Zurich Insurance has called on those preparing their homes for the festive season to take extra care and reduce the danger of fires.

Kevin McCarthy, Director of Personal Line at Zurich Insurance commented, "While most of us have a good understanding of the steps needed to keep a home safe at Christmas time, our research has shown that many people in Ireland are disregarding simple safety precautions. Easy steps such as placing your Christmas tree away from open fires or heaters, using plug sockets and extension chords responsibly, and remembering to blow out candles before leaving the house can help keep you safe this festive season. We would urge anyone preparing for Christmas to consider the home risks involved, so that you can rest easy and have a great holiday."

While simple measures can be taken to keep us safe in the home at Christmas, stocking the right equipment can be just as important in fire defence. The research revealed, however, that more than one-fifth (22%) of Irish people don’t have a battery powered smoke alarm in their household, while an even greater number (29%) fail to check their smoke alarms at least once per year. Half of people (49%) don’t own a carbon monoxide detector, 57% don’t have a fire extinguisher, and just a third (33%) have a fire blanket in the house.

Click here to see Zurich Home Safety Tips

Those celebrating the holiday season can take a range of precautions to ensure a safe home:

  • Avoid hanging items that can catch fire above or close to an open fire or stove;
  • Avoid leaving Christmas lights and other appliances switched on when everyone is leaving the house or going to bed;
  • For outdoor lights, make sure all electrical sockets and plugs are kept dry, and the lights are LED type. Make sure also that the lights are for outdoor use;
  • Do not leave candles lit while everyone is out. Open flames should also be kept a safe distance from flammable fabrics at all times;
  • Carefully place your Christmas tree a safe distance from any fire source or heater;
  • Place a real tree in water to keep it from drying out. The dryer the Christmas tree, the easier it will catch fire;
  • The best line of defence if a fire does occur is early detection. Ensure all battery powered smoke alarms have charged batteries installed. Test all detectors before the Christmas period.
  • Finally, having full house insurance, that not only covers the building, but also contents, is one of the best lines of defence any family can take over the Christmas period.

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