Elf and safety: Protecting businesses this Christmas season


Christmas is a time of joy and celebration. But with lots of properties empty for the holidays, and people distracted by festivities, it’s the time of year when a lot of risks can occur. From burglaries to burst water pipes, there can be all sorts of unwelcome surprises in store for some of us over the holidays. But with a little forward planning we can easily avoid them and enjoy the festivities without the drama.

Accidental fires

The holiday period always sees a rise in fires in the workplace* and we're not talking about the cosy, roasting chestnuts on an open fire type, we're talking about accidental, unwanted fires. Around 33% of which are caused by electricals. So, if a business is planning on closing its premises over the Christmas and New Year period, we recommend a few simple shut down measures and checks to keep them protected:

  • Tis’ the season to be careful, so double check all fire doors and shutters are closed correctly.
  • Check all your fire protection systems are active and maintained. That includes fire suppression and fire detection systems.
  • Only a turkey would leave hazardous or dangerous materials lying about. Make sure these types of materials are locked up and stored in a safe place to avoid any incidents occurring whist the property is empty.
  •  Keep all combustible materials outside of the premises to a minimum. Arrange for waste skips and rubbish bins to be emptied.
  • Combustible materials should be stored ten metres clear of buildings where possible. Make sure there is a two-metre clearance between external combustible materials and the site perimeter fence.
  • Powering down for the holidays? Ensure all equipment is switched off and not just on standby mode. This includes things such as tree lights and any other internal/external festive decorations.

Bad weather

The one thing we know we’ll always get for Christmas is a bit of bad weather. This can bring its fair share of problems to buildings too, especially those at risk of flooding. Floods don’t just damage the properties themselves; they also disrupt day-to-day business operations. In fact, the losses from flooding between November 2019 and March 2020 were around £333 million. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure properties are well guarded against damage. Here’s a few tips to help keep the Christmas spirit in, and the elements out:

  • Make sure the temperature in the building doesn’t drop below 5C. This will keep Jack Frost at bay and prevent any water in the pipes from freezing.
  • Check the weather forecast. Is it going to be a white Christmas or just plain wet and windy? Make plans to ensure buildings are watertight. 
  • Check all taps are fully off. You can never be too careful.
  • It’s not always a silent night. So, secure any outdoor objects that are loose to ensure they don’t become projectiles during high winds.
  • Give your gutters a once-over to see that they’re good condition and debris-free.


Lastly, nothing can steal away the joy of Christmas like a burglary. The emergency services say that the holiday period is a prime time for theft, arson, and vandalism. Their data shows that 62% of burglaries happen at night and 58% at dawn. With unattended premises becoming targets during shorter days, it’s good to make sure that security is front of mind. So here are a few simple reminders to ensure this Christmas is thief free:

  • Not everyone is in the spirit of giving at Christmas, so give your security system an upgrade before closing.
  • Lock trouble out in the cold. Make sure that all entry points are secure and check that all locking devices are correctly in place.
  • Your Christmas lights are up, but what about your external security lighting? Check internal and external lighting is in good working order.
  • Alarms and CCTV systems should be in tip-top condition. And it’s best to inform your alarm monitoring centre of any closing-down period.
  • Any festive decorations in sight? Make sure they aren’t blocking any alarm or CCTV systems.
  • Lock away all portable electrical and electronic equipment items like projectors, PC’s and laptops in a secure place.
  • Accidents can happen, even over the holidays, so make sure your list of emergency contacts is accurate and up to date.

As you can see, a bit of planning and preparation can help us keep Christmas festive and the worries to a minimum.

Authored by RSA


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