Guide to thy perfect light
Published: 06 Dec 2012
Fire chiefs across the UK have issued warnings this month over the safe use of Christmas lights.
They have stressed that as last years decorations are unpacked and new ones bought, people need to be careful with festive lighting for both indoor and outdoor use. In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of people using lights to decorate the outside of their homes, offices and gardens for Christmas, so people need to make sure they don't put their families, work colleagues or homes at risk.
You can do this by following these basic safety guidelines over the festive period:
- check Christmas lights conform to British Standards guidelines, or have the European CE safety mark;
- check each set of lights, old or new, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wire or any loose connections;
- make sure the lights are switched off at the mains before inserting or removing bulbs;
- only use the correct bulb for that particular set of lights;
- always use a residual current device (RCD) on outdoor electrical equipment;
- take care not to overload electrical sockets;
- do not let bulbs come into contact with anything that might burn easily (such as wrapping paper);
- only use lights designed for external use outside;
- fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, walls and fences, out of the reach of young children;
- always turn off Christmas lights when leaving the house or when you go to bed;
- double check your smoke alarms are working as you put up your Christmas lights.
Fancy dress banned by Christmas Squares
Published: 05 Dec 2012
Council chiefs have been branded Scrooges after they banned SpongeBob Squarepants from turning on the Christmas lights because of health and safety fears.
Hundreds of children suffered a blue Christmas and were left in tears after the costume of the TV favourite was deemed too wide to walk up five steps onto a platform. Thousands of families turned out to Wolverhampton's Market Square to see SpongeBob, and the council shelled out £2,000 to hire the costume. The plan was for him to appear on the back of a float which would carry him around town. However, he was only allowed to walk around at ground level under the stage, meaning he could only be seen by people at the front of the crowd.
Mark Blackstock, outdoor events manager for the council said, "Unfortunately, the character actor playing SpongeBob Squarepants was unable to climb the stairs on to the stage because of his costume. Health and safety considerations meant we were unable to lift him onto the stage using the tailgate of one of our vehicles because of the high numbers of people around the stage."
However, Judith Hackitt has responded swiftly to the media coverage of the incident. She countered, "The truth is that health and safety did not prevent SpongeBob Squarepants taking to the stage to switch the lights on. With a bit of common sense and proper forward planning it would have been perfectly possible to get SpongeBob upon to the stage, bulky costume or not. If I could have a Christmas wish for myself it would be that we hear a lot less of these ridiculous excuses in the future. That would be a gift we can all enjoy."
Ultimate "green" Christmas tree
Published: 05 Dec 2012
We may all hope for a white Christmas, but one conservation group is aiming to make the festive season "green" this year.
According to figures, around eight million Christmas trees are bought and thrown out in the UK each year, producing some 12,000 tonnes of waste. Sudbury-based environmental group, Woodland B.A.T.S (Bio-diversity Around Towns Scheme), has come up with the idea of "renting out" live trees so they can be re-used next year. The group has been growing the festive specimens at their tree nursery in Chilton on the outskirts of town.
Group chairman Peter Clifford said, "I think it's possible to hire an artificial Christmas tree, but as far as I know we are the only people in the area renting out real Christmas trees. I have managed to keep Christmas trees going for years at home by planting them in my garden in between seasons. So as an eco-group, we felt that hiring trees which can be used for many Christmases to come would be the ultimate recycling. All we do ask is that customers take off the decorations before sending them back!"
The trees are about 4ft tall, are all organically grown, come with good roots and already potted. They can be hired for a fee of £5, with a £10 deposit, and include care instructions and a date by which they must be returned.
Green, green Christmas...
Published: 05 Dec 2012
Christmas is a time of festivities, fun, games, terrible jumpers and unfortunately, waste. So to make your Christmas more environmentally friendly, why not follow some useful tips?
- as the UK uses approximately 200,000 trees worth of Christmas cards each year, why not send recycled cards, e-cards or make your own;
- avoid plastic, non-biodegradable decorations and use some of the natural decorations available, such as fir cones;
- make your own Christmas decorations using holly, ivy, berries and evergreen, or even string some popcorn up and use it as a garland;
- buying a real tree? Buy one that has been grown locally by a sustainable grower, and if it still has the roots attached, replant it so you can use it year after year;
- use energy saving lightbulbs and LEDs for your Christmas lights, or alternatively switch your lights off and get in the festive spirit by lighting scented candles;
- get creative with your wrapping and use old paper bags, posters, glossy magazines and decorate with scraps of fabric from old clothes;
- don't get caught up with buying unwanted gifts for friends, why not make them a meal instead, make a donation to charity in their name or even adopt a penguin on their behalf;
- avoid using disposable plates and cutlery, use real crockery, especially if you have an energy saving dishwasher;
- recycle! Check what can be recycled by your local council and also at your nearest recycling bank;
- and finally... buy an organic turkey for the Christmas table!
We at Cedrec are dreaming of a green Christmas, with every Christmas card we re-use, may your days be merry and energy-saving bright, and may all your Christmases be green!
"Silent killer" warning
Published: 30 Nov 2012
The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSE NI) have launched its annual public awareness campaign - "Watch Out. Carbon Monoxide Kills".
The campaign aims to help prevent carbon monoxide deaths and poisoning in Northern Ireland this winter and comes less than a month after provisions which makes it compulsory for all new homes in Northern Ireland to have a carbon monoxide alarm installed. It warns people of the dangers of this silent killer from oil, gas, coal and solid fuel and calls on everyone to act now to stay safe.
With winter under way and heating systems and solid fuel fires being used more, this targeted, hard-hitting campaign reminds homeowners to make sure their chimneys and flues are cleaned at least once a year, and that appliances, such as heaters, boilers and cookers, are serviced at least annually by a registered engineer. It also demonstrates how installing an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home can help protect you, and your family.
You can find out more about the campaign at: http://cedr.ec/ix
farm safety plan launched
Published: 30 Nov 2012
A detailed 18-month plan of action to tackle farm safety in Northern Ireland has been launched by the Farm Safety Partnership.
The Partnership was set up in May this year to address the shocking increase in the number of farmers who are dying or seriously injuring themselves as a result of work-related accidents. Since then, a number of initiatives have been launched. The Farm Safety Action Plan for Northern Ireland, which was developed by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSE NI), the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), National Farmers Union Mutual (NFUM) and the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU), sets out a clear strategy aimed at reducing injury and deaths in farming and includes details of specific goals and targets the partnership aims to achieve.
The agricultural sector suffers one of the highest workplace accident rates in the UK and Ireland. Since April 2007, more than 40 people in Northern Ireland have been killed as a direct result of agricultural activities. Many more have been seriously injured.
Launching the Action Plan, Health and Safety Minister Arlene Foster said, "Accidents resulting in serious injury or death continue to be a very real danger for farmers and agricultural workers across Northern Ireland. Too many families have had to suffer the unspeakable grief of losing a loved one as a result of a farming accident and I have seen at first hand the devastating effect it has on those who are left behind."
She continued, "Work-related deaths on our farms are not inevitable and most could be prevented by taking simple steps to improve safety. We need to urgently make sure farmers are doing everything they can to stay safe. The actions contained in the Farm Safety Partnership plan have been agreed by all of the key stakeholders, and work is already well under way to deliver them."
You can find out more about the Farm Safety Partnership and the Farm Safety Partnership Action Plan at: http://cedr.ec/iw