Mother and two children die in tragic house fire caused by Christmas lights

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Take note where your Christmas decorations are in contact with - stay safe this Christmas, parents!

Christmas time means getting the decorations up – every family’s favourite thing to do. However, it’s important to take precautions. If you’ve ever wondered “do Christmas lights get hot enough to start a fire?”, take note of a tragic story of a house fire killing a mother and her two young children.

Do Christmas lights get hot enough to start a fire? Yes, they do…

Do Christmas lights get hot enough to start a fire

Image source: The Mirror screengrab

On December 15, a house fire claimed the life of 33-year-old Justine Collison and two of her children, Izzy and Harvey, aged 8-years-old and 5-years-old respectively. It’s believed the blaze may have been started by fairy lights that came into contact with their dried-out Christmas tree.

Gavin, Justine’s husband, is in hospitalised and currently in critical condition. Justine’s mother, Diane, was led to safety from the family home in Nottinghamshire, England.

Do Christmas lights get hot enough to start a fire

Do Christmas lights get hot enough to start a fire? Sadly it did for the Collissons | Image source: The Mirror screengrab

A neighbour, Paul Norton, and his son Elliott, attempted to knock down the back door when they spotted a “red glow” from inside the Collisson’s house that morning. They were unsuccessful and had to wait until firefighters arrived shortly afterwards.

57-year-old Paul said there were no lights from inside the home, but he recognised the family were still inside because their car was on the driveway.

“There was too much smoke and the door handles were hot,” Paul shared on his harrowing experience on trying to help.

Do Christmas lights get hot enough to start a fire

Parents wondering “do Christmas lights get hot enough to start a fire?” should pay attention to this tragedy | Image source: The Mirror screengrab

“I am shocked and speechless about what has happened. You don’t expect it to happen at all.”

The firemen were efficient and did their best to save whoever they could. But the rescue workers were left “totally devastated” after responding to the incident.

In their statement made on Facebook, they shared their thoughts and condolences.

“One of the proudest things an on-call firefighter can do is to serve his or her own community, but when events like this occur it hits us hard.

“We are totally devastated, and we know that the healing process for the whole of our village will be long and difficult.”

Fire safety tips

Mums and dads, here are some simple fire safety tips to remember and practise to stay safe during this festive period:

  • If you are in an unfamiliar place, like say, the mall, spot and note the fire exits.
  • Unless you are trapped, exit by the stairs. Do not use the lifts. The most effective way out is to lay low and move.
  • If you are trapped in your house, move to a room with a window. Call 995 and let them know your situation.

Open the windows as widely as possible and shout for help. Do not attempt to jump. Do not throw anyone down. It is dangerous.

  • Do not smoke inside the house, especially when you are going to sleep.
  • At home, keep candles at a safe distance from the bed, carpet, and curtains. Extinguish them before sleeping.
  • Switch off electrical appliances when not in use. Don’t forget to unplug the iron after use.
  • Call an electrician instead of undertaking any electrical work on your own at home.
  • Do not throw flammable things down the refuse chute.
  • Keep flammables like matches, lighters, etc out of the reach of the children.
  • Do not store more than one LPG cylinder in the kitchen. Check the tubing of the cooking gas for signs of wear and tear. 

Effects of smoke inhalation

It may come as a shock that it is smoke inhalation, and not burns, that is the number 1 cause of death related to fires. Smoke inhalation occurs when the victim breathes in the products of combustion during a fire. Carbon monoxide poisoning has been found to be the leading cause of death in smoke inhalation.

Caring for victims of smoke inhalation

  • Call for help. Singapore emergency ambulance no is 995.
  • It is important to drag the child away from the smoke and get him out into the fresh air.
  • Have the child sit down until he begins to feel better. Cover him with a blanket.
  • After coughing has subsided, offer a glass of water to calm a burning throat.
  • Place a cool washcloth over his eyes and forehead.
  • Check his breathing. Loosen clothes around the neck and torso to help breathing.
  • If he is unconscious, turn his head to the side to prevent possible vomit from choking him.
  • See a doctor as soon as possible for further assessment.

Sources: The Mirror

Also read: 

3-Year-Old in hospital, one dead in HDB flat fire tragedy

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Written by

Vinnie Wong