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Decorating communal areas

Decorations: Decorating communal areas for celebrations and holidays


We want you to enjoy living in our homes, but we also want to keep you safe.

We are happy to for customers to decorate their homes at special times of year, such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween or even a special birthday or anniversary celebration, but it is important that you do this safely and show consideration for your neighbours.

Fairy lights, candles and decorations all have the potential to become fire hazards if proper care is not taken. To keep you and your neighbours safe, and in line with new legislation, decorations will be strictly limited in communal areas. 

Please follow these handy checklists so your decorations are safe for everyone to enjoy.

Homes with communal rooms:

If you live in one of our schemes or flat blocks, with communal room(s) - Extra Care, Sheltered Living, Supported Living schemes, Refuges, Hostels and Flats - then decorations in the shared/communal areas must follow these guidelines:

  • No real trees
  • Fire retardant trees and decorations
  • Decorations not to block exit routes/fire exits 
  • Decoration not to be a or a trip hazard
  • Decoration do not cover H&S signage
  • Trees to be located near fire/heat detection sensors where possible
  • In communal area – not in reception/lobby
  • No decoration on handrails e.g., tinsel wrapped around handrails.
  • No door decorations e.g., wreaths, door bows, webs, banners.

Flats with shared communal space:

If you live in a flat block including high-rise and low rise blocks, where your front door opens into a shared internal corridor and you have shared space, such as corridors, lobby and landings (but no communal room), then decorations in the shared/communal areas must follow these guidelines:

  • No trees in any shared areas – corridors, lobby, landings
  • No door decorations e.g., wreaths, door bows, webs, banners.
  • No decoration on handrails e.g., tinsel wrapped around handrails.

General safety advice:

For all our customers, including those living in houses, we ask that you follow our general safety advice:

Electrical safety:

  • Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard. Always use an RCD on outdoor electrical equipment (that is a safety device that can save lives by instantly switching off the power).
  • Make sure you buy the right set of lights for indoor use, outdoor use, or both.
  • Before decorating, check all light sets for frayed wires, damaged sockets, or cracked insulation. If you find any defects, replace the entire set.
  • Don't overload your electrical sockets – one plug per socket only. You can use multi-socket extensions but they must also be Kite or CE marked.
  • Keep fresh cut trees well-watered and keep extension cords and light strings away from the water.
  • All lights must have a Kite Mark or CE mark and they must be used as per the instructions that come with them. They should come with a fixed plug and the wiring must never be altered. 
  • Do not let light bulbs touch anything that can burn easily .
  • Switch off electrical appliances when not in use, unless they’re designed to stay on. Take special care with fairy lights. Always switch off and unplug fairy lights before you go to bed.

Fire safety:

  • Decorations should be fire retardant – check this when buying them.
  • Never place candles near a Christmas tree or furnishings. Don't leave them burning unattended.
  • Make sure you water your live tree - a dry tree, is a flammable tree. 
  • Light paper, tissue and cotton wool burn very easily and should not be used 
  • When watering your live Christmas tree, make sure no water goes onto electrical equipment.
  • Make sure your family and visitors staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency, get them to practice your fire escape plan.
  • Decorations can burn easily, don't attach them to lights or heaters.
  • Switch off electrical appliances when not in use unless they’re designed to stay on. Take special care with Christmas lights. Always switch off and unplug Christmas lights before you go to bed.
  • Celebrate Christmas and New Year safely. The risk of accidents, especially in the kitchen, is greater after alcohol is consumed, enjoy yourself but be careful!
  • Most fires start in the kitchen - never leave cooking unattended.
  • If you are planning to celebrate with fireworks, store them in a metal box, read the instructions, never go back to a lit firework and keep a bucket of water nearby.
  • Make sure cigarettes or cigars are completely extinguished.
  • Check the battery in your smoke alarm every week and use Christmas as a reminder to clean it and remove dust.
  • Keep candles, lighters and matches out of reach of children.
  • Pumpkins should be lit with battery lights.
  • Don’t allow rubbish to build up – think about how you will get rid of wrapping paper, party hats or anything that may burn easily. 
  • No decorations should be attached to lights, touch lights or be placed above heaters or fireplaces.
  • Only light your tree when you are at home to keep a check on it and awake to enjoy it.
  • Make sure your family and visitors staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency. Practice a fire escape plan.
  • Check the battery in your smoke alarm every week and use Christmas as a reminder to clean it and remove dust.
  • If you are planning to celebrate with fireworks, store them in a metal box, read the instructions, never go back to a lit firework and keep a bucket of water nearby.

Candles:
It is safer not to use candles in your home, please consider a safer alternative e.g. battery lit lights.  But if you do use candles, please make sure you do so safely:

  • Always put candles on a heat resistant surface. Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which get hot enough to melt plastic. TVs are not fire-resistant objects.
  • Ensure candles are in secure and suitable containers - candles need to be held firmly upright by the holder so they won’t fall over. The holder needs to be stable too, so it won’t fall over either.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Never position in a draught, anywhere near curtains or near any materials, which could ignite.
  • Don’t put them under shelves. It’s easy to forget that there’s a lot of heat above a burning candle. If you put it under a shelf or other surface then it can burn the surface. Make sure there’s at least three feet (one metre) between a candle and any surface above it.
  • Keep clothes and hair away. If there’s any chance you could lean across a candle and forget it’s there, put it somewhere else. You don’t want to set fire to your clothes or your hair.
  • Keep children and pets away. Candles should be out of reach of children and pets.
  • Keep candles apart. Leave at least four inches (10cm) between two burning candles.
  • Take care with votive or scented candles. These kinds of candles turn to liquid to release their fragrance, so put them in a glass or metal holder.
  • Don’t move them when they’re burning. Extinguish candles before moving them. Also, don’t let anything fall into the hot wax like match sticks.
  • Don’t leave them burning. Extinguish candles before you leave a room. Never go to sleep with a candle still burning. And never leave a burning candle or oil burner in a child’s bedroom.
  • Use a snuffer or a spoon to put them out. It’s safer than blowing them, which can send sparks and hot wax flying.
  • Double check they’re out. Candles that have been put out can go on smouldering and start a fire. Make sure they’re completely out.

Personal safety:

  • Cables and wires should be carefully placed so they don’t run across areas where people walk.
  • Christmas trees must be stable and secure so that they do not fall over.
  • Think about how you will put up and take down decorations. Standing on furniture or moving heavy items may cause you injury. Ask for help if you need it.

Take the time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours - make sure they and their homes are fire safe.

Find out more about safety in your home, in the Your Home, Your Safety guide.