Norwich Union warns of increased fire risk over the Christmas season

Article date: 19 December 2005

Household fires could increase by 200 percent this ChristmasDay, according to data from Norwich Union.

Today the UK’s largest insurer reveals:

  • There has been a two-fold increase in fire claims on ChristmasDay since 2000
  • Norwich Union is expecting to receive 55% more claims betweenChristmas and New Year compared with a typical 8-day period
  • Over £70m is spent by Norwich Union on fire claims eachyear

For Mark Jones from London, Christmas 2004 is one he’llnever forget. Mark returned with his wife from a Christmas Eveparty to find the house filled with smoke because they’dforgotten a joint of gammon on the stove. Christmas was ruined: hischildren had to move out of their home, while he and his wife spenthours trying to rid their home of smoke and sort out the damage of£3,500. This year Mr Jones has vowed to take extra special care toavoid a similar thing happening again.

“Last Christmas was a total write-off for ourfamily,” said Mr Jones. ‘We had to spend Christmaselsewhere, the children were incredibly disappointed and we had tosort out all the damage to our home when other families wererelaxing and enjoying the festive period. This year we’llmake doubly sure that we enjoy a safer – and happier –Christmas.”

While Mr Jones’ fire started in the kitchen, analysis ofNorwich Union claims data reveals that it’s Christmas lights,paper decorations and the increasing use of candles that combine toform the biggest fire threat over the Christmas period.

Nobody wants to be Scrooge at Christmas – by all means,indulge in a little Christmas spirit – but remember thatalcohol, cooking and candles don’t mix. With this in mind,Norwich Union has created top guidelines to keep the fun infestivities and ensure a good time is had by all thisChristmas:

  • Ensure you check the smoke alarms in your home are working.Check them on a weekly basis and do not be tempted to removebatteries
  • Make your escape plan. Get out alive - plan your escape routefor the event of fire and ensure all your family and guests knowwhere the door and window keys are kept
  • Avoid overloading plug sockets and use a power-breaker, whichwill automatically cut the power in case of any faultyelectrics
  • Ensure you turn off all Christmas lights and extinguish allcandles before you go out or go to bed
  • Keep paper decorations, streamers and tinsel well away fromlights and candles
  • Place candles, including tea lights, in proper holders or on aheat-resistant surface
  • Replace old Christmas lights with a new set which adhere toBritish Standards Regulations
  • Avoid leaving young children or pets unattended in a room withlit candles
  • Don't be distracted when cooking, fire starts when yourattention stops. Take special care when lighting the Christmaspudding!

Mike Flaherty, property claims manager, Norwich Union, said:“Christmas is an especially important time when it comes tofire safety. And while Christmas presents mean that the financialcosts in the case of a fire would be higher than usual, theemotional costs need to be considered too. Losing access to anddamaging your home at one of the most important times of the yearcould be very difficult to deal with.”

The good news is that Norwich UnionDirect provides £3,000 extra contents cover for added peace of mindfor its customers over the Christmas period.

Sir Graham Meldrum, HM ChiefInspector Fire & Rescue Services, said: “Christmas andNew Year is a time when we can relax and enjoy being with friendsand family. We all like Christmas lights, decorations and candles -but they can all be potential fire hazards.

By taking just a few simpleprecautions, you can reduce the risks for yourself and your family.In particular, I would especially urge everyone to ensure that theyhave a working smoke alarm installed on each floor level in theirhome.”


Media contacts:
Emilie Lien at Lexis PRon 020 7908 6421, 07956 106 987 or email
Rebecca Holmes at Norwich Union Press Office on 01603 354 346/07800690731 or Erik Nelson at Norwich Union Press Office on 01603682264/ 07989 427086

Notes toeditors
Mark Jones and his family are available forphotographs.

About Norwich Union Insurance

  • Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer with a marketshare of around 14 per cent.
  • With a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses, Norwich Union insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in seven motor vehicles
    • more than 800,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners suchas banks and building societies and Norwich Union Direct.

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