The importance of increased fire safety measures in retail over the festive season

Christmas Fire

Health and safety, and in particular, fire safety, is important for retailers all year round. However, the festive season brings with it increased risks and unique challenges that retailers should be aware of as they head into the busy Christmas period.

Increased fire risks associated with the festive season

Additional stock levels

In anticipation of high demand and increased sales, shops will have additional stock levels to cope with the demands of shoppers. However, high stock levels can cause an increased fire risk in a number of ways. Firstly, stock and associated packaging provide increased fuel should a fire arise. And secondly,  there is a potential for poorly stored stock to obstruct fire doors, routes to exits, fire-fighting equipment or signage. Safe storage is key here and should be taken into consideration throughout the festive period.

Flammable Christmas decorations

Pretty much every shop puts up festive decorations during the Christmas period but many items, such as garlands, tinsel and trees, are often made from combustible materials in readily ignitable forms. When you combine this with lights and other seasonal electrical equipment, it can present an increased risk of fire. Especially if equipment is overloaded, old, damaged or poorly managed. Retailers should therefore test any lighting or electrical equipment before it’s used and be mindful where they hang flammable Christmas decorations.

Increased footfall

The festive period is a fantastic time for retailers as more customers flock to stores to get their Christmas shopping done. While this is great from a business perspective, increased sales means increased footfall in the store which can pose a fire risk. The hustle and bustle and jostling for items can cause accidents and with more customers in your shop, if a fire did occur, evacuation would be much more difficult and time consuming.

Seasonal staff

Many shops hire new seasonal staff to cope with the demands of the busy Christmas period but there is a potential lack of fire risk awareness among these new employees or casual workers, with many unfamiliar with a premises’ fire risk assessment, emergency plan and fire safety procedures. Retailers should ensure that all new staff are given thorough training, taken through health and safety procedures and given refreshers when necessary.

Fire risk assessments for shops

Taking the above points into consideration, it’s vital that retailers take the time to review their full health and safety strategy, with particular attention to their fire risk assessment and emergency evacuation plan well in advance of Christmas so that, should the worst happen, they are prepared.

Need help with your retail fire risk assessment this festive period? At Martyn Young Fireproofing Consultant, we help conduct fire risk assessments for shops and retail premises throughout the UK. With our help, fire risk assessments in shops don’t have to be exhausting, time-consuming and difficult to accomplish. Our BAFE approved fire risk assessments can be done quickly yet thoroughly with our bespoke web-based software.

Specifically, our fire risk assessments for shops are ideal for managing multiple risk assessment actions across multiple locations. So if you have more than one premises you can see all your actions in one place and manage them in real time.

Contact us for information about how you can stay safe and compliant this festive period.

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