Less than a week before the big day, Zurich warns us of the dangers of the festive season

We are just four days away from Christmas. So what better to do now than talk about the dangers?

Zurich UK has compiled a list of potential hazards British people bring upon their homes in the festive period.

Christmas Illuminations

Over three quarters (77%) of Brits illuminate their Christmas tree with electric lights. Two fifths (39%) put up decorative lights around the house, while a fifth (21%) use fairy lights to decorate the outside of their homes

However, over three million households leave their Christmas tree lights on all the time, or overnight, potentially putting their homes at risk of a fire:

  • 6% of people leave their Christmas tree lights on permanently, not turning them off until they take them down
  • A further 6% leave them on throughout the night

Analysis of Zurich’s data shows fire-related claims spike in December when compared to the monthly average. Candles are the main cause of fires during the festive period[3] closely followed by electrical appliances and wiring

When Santa comes knocking

  • Brits splash an average £258 on presents for friends and family
  • A third (33%) of people put their presents under the tree in the third week of December (16th – 23rd) whilst 17% put out presents even earlier meaning potentially expensive presents are on display for weeks leading up to Christmas
  • People living in the South West are most likely (12%) to have their Christmas presents under the tree during the first week of December, followed by the East Midlands (10%) and then London (6%)
  • The most generous gift givers:
    • Wales - £300
    • East of England - £298
    • North East - £289
    • North West - £282
    • South West – £270

Christmas Day dinners go up in smoke

  • Nearly a quarter (26%) of people have seen their Christmas Dinner go up in smoke and its younger diners who are more at risk of charring the turkey:
    • Over two fifths (42%) of 18 – 24yr olds have themselves, or know someone who has, burnt Christmas dinner

Phil Ost, home insurance expert at Zurich said: “Christmas festivities are in full swing with decorations up, most presents under the tree and the final few Christmas Day details being put in place. And, whilst there’s no need to dampen the Christmas spirit, it’s important that homeowners remain vigilant at this time of year.

“The value of our contents increases through December, which can make our homes a target for thieves, and with lights adorning Christmas trees and homes there is potentially an increased risk of fire. However, a few simple precautions can help put minds at ease and help us all enjoy the party season.”

Tips for keeping your home safe over Christmas:

  • Ensure your Christmas tree is well-watered. The needles should be difficult to pull off and the bark slightly wet to the touch. Keep it well away from any heat sources including radiators, fires and ovens
  • Check that any Christmas lights you’re using on the tree, or around the house, carry the British Safety Standard sign
  • Turn your Christmas lights off when you go to bed and when there is no one in the house
  • Never leave your Christmas cooking unattended. It can be all too tempting to leave something on the hob while you open presents but there should always be someone keeping an eye on the cooking
  • Ensure candles are kept away from any flammable materials, such as decorations and Christmas trees, and never leave burning candles unattended
  • Regularly check your smoke alarms
  • Make your house unattractive to opportunistic thieves. Use motion sensors and put timers on lights within your home so it looks like someone is in the house. Keep your presents out of sight and don’t leave any gift packaging outside the home.
  • Keep valuables, including any new presents, out of sight and ensure keys are kept out of locks and away from letter boxes
  • Ensure that outbuildings are locked, and garden equipment is secured, thieves often use your home equipment instead of theirs so keeping it under lock and eye will only make their job harder
  • Check your home insurance so you know what is and what isn’t covered and add any big-ticket items you or your family receives at Christmas.