Advent is just around the corner, time for cosy evenings by candlelight. This means fire safety is a “red hot” topic. According to the German Insurance Association (GDV), fire damage increases by 40 per cent at the end of the year compared with the spring or autumn months. Frank Wiedemann, Head of Quality Assurance at drapilux, explains what precautions you can take to make sure you can relax and enjoy this season of reflection.
When you look at the statistics, there is a fire every two or three minutes in a property in Germany. Often only one object or room is affected; occasionally the whole house burns down. The fire services are, however, only needed for one in four fires – the rest can be quickly put out or the flames extinguish by themselves. The number of deaths caused by fire has been decreasing for years and is very low by international standards. Nevertheless, 280 people die on average every year as a direct consequence of a fire. More than half of the victims are over 65 as older people cannot get to safety quickly enough in the event of a fire due to reduced mobility. In around two thirds of cases, the causes of death are not the flames, but rather poisoning by noxious gases.
The main causes of fires in properties are electrical appliances, human error and open flames. The latter is particularly responsible for the increase in damage caused by fire in the latter months of the year. A dry Advent wreath or a Christmas tree only needs around 10 seconds to go up in flames. If you do not wish to do without real candles on your Christmas tree, you can reduce the risk of fire by following a few simple procedures:
Never leave candles unattended or allow them to burn down completely
Only place candles on sturdy metal stands and make sure they stand upright
Only buy a Christmas tree shortly before the Christmas holiday begins, water it regularly and put in a non-flammable base
Keep fire extinguishing agents nearby (bucket of water, fire extinguisher or extinguishing spray)
Ensure the tree is far enough away from flammable materials
This includes decorative fabrics, curtains and upholstery in particular. Here, drapilux textiles offer additional safety features. Thanks to a modification of the polyester fibre, all drapilux fabrics are permanently flame-retardant. If a fire should break out, limit the spread of the fire and development of flue gases. All drapilux items adhere to national and international safety standards valid for commercial properties. Flame-retardant fabrics are a legal requirement in hotels, hospitals, care facilities and on ships. Besides statutory certifications, drapilux subjects its products to detailed tests in its own laboratory. You can find out more about the certifications in #good2know episode 4.
Even if you can do without real candles on the Christmas tree, you should still be aware of the fire risk of fairy lights and electric candles. Short circuits, cables which have burned through or defective batteries can start fires too. For this reason, make sure you check for the German “GS” or “VDE” certification mark when purchasing these items.
drapilux wishes you a happy and risk-free Advent.
Frank Wiedemann is responsible for ensuring compliance with international fire safety standards at Schmitz Textiles, and responds to enquiries concerning REACh - the European Chemicals Regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals. REACh is considered to be one of the strictest laws regarding chemicals worldwide.