Festive celebrations, flickering lights, and Christmas trees are hallmarks of the holiday season. But they also present fire risks that can quickly turn this festive time of year into a devastating one. Yes, tis the season…for increased fire risk. Did you know that a house fire occurs every 24 seconds? That is more than 3,000 fires each day, and the threat increases during the holiday season. To ensure that your family’s holidays are merry and bright, make these fire safety tips a priority in your home during this most wonderful time of the year.
Fire Safety Tips for Holiday Decorating
Ribbons, greenery, ornaments, lights, and candles are all beautiful ways to add a Christmas spirit to your home. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission urges people to look for and eliminate potential dangers from holiday lights and decorations that can lead to fires and injuries. Many of these risks are preventable. Use these tips to create a safe festive holiday environment.
Trees & Greenery
Did you know that heat sources placed too close to a Christmas tree account for 25 percent of Christmas tree fires? The NFPA urges homeowners to keep their trees at least three feet away from heat sources, including “fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.”
To minimize risk, use these fire protection tips:
- Buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it daily. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite.
- Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns.
- If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources.
- And if you’re an Elf on the Shelf family, heed warnings from fire departments across the nation: Don’t leave the little guy near any heat sources, including lamps. There’s nothing sadder (or possibly more dangerous) than a melted elf.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning.
It’s not Christmas without holiday lights! But did you know that the electrical distribution of lighting equipment was involved in 43% of Christmas tree fires? Use these few fire safety tips to keep your holiday light from adding too much sparkle to your home.
- Only use up to three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Overloaded outlets and power strips are big fire hazards.
- Use heavy-duty quality extension cords that are grounded for fire safety.
- When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples, damaging the wiring and increasing the fire risk. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers.
- Turn off all lights and decorations before leaving the house or going to bed. To avoid braving the cold every night, install a timer to automatically turn on the lights at dusk and turn them back off at dawn.
- Check bulbs and connections. Replace any frayed wires or wires with a worn appearance with a new strand,
- Consider using LED lights. They put out more light and require less energy than incandesce lights.
- For added electric-shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
Use caution when decking the halls with your favorite pine-scented candles!
- Keep candles at least 12 inches away from all flammable items.
- Always use a sturdy candle holder to keep it from tipping over or touching flammable surfaces.
- Store matches and lighters up high, preferably in a locked cupboard.
- Put candles and lighters out of reach from children and pets.
Fire Safety Tips for Holiday Heating & Cooking
Fireplaces & Furnaces
Santa isn’t the only one who likes a clean chimney! Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves, and residue to ensure proper venting.
- Have all fireplaces cleaned and inspected annually by a professional.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
- After your fire is entirely out, cover the wood with a thin layer of baking soda to ensure there are no active embers.
- When cleaning fireplace embers from your fireplace, place them in a metal ash container. Store the container in a safe place outside your home and away from any combustible materials for added protection.
- Fuel-burning space heaters can be threats for carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure that they are used in a well-ventilated space.
The holidays present a flurry of distractions and lots of cooks are busy in the kitchen. These simple kitchen fire safety tips can ensure that you end up at the dining room table for Christmas dinner.
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking. According to the USFA, unattended cooking is the leading cause of holiday fires,
- It is pretty easy to get distracted in the kitchen, especially during Christmas. One simple safety tip is to set a kitchen timer. You can even bring a potholder with you when you leave the kitchen as a reminder that you have something on the stove.
- If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.
Carbon monoxide / Fire alarms / Fire Extinguishers
With the abundance of Christmas decor and heating and cooking appliances operating at full tilt, now is the time to do a check-up on your fire protection equipment: Carbon Monoxide Detectors, Smoke Alarms , and Fire Extinguishers.
- Test and replace batteries in all of your Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Fire Alarms.
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Slarms should be located outside of each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
- Replace CO alarms every five to seven years to benefit from the latest technology upgrades.
- In case of a power outage, install at least one battery-powered CO alarm or AC-powered unit with a battery backup.
- Place Fire Extinguishers in strategic locations around your home so you can quickly contain any fire threat before it spreads.
- If you need additional, updated detectors, alarms, or extinguishers, contact us to have one of our fire specialists ensure that you have proper fire protection this holiday season.
What to do if a Fire Breaks Out In Your Home?
Once a fire breaks out in your home, you will have only seconds to make important decisions about putting out the fire, escaping from your home, and calling the fire department. Being prepared is the key to responding in this threatening fire environment to keep your family safe.
Know How to Use Your Fire Extinguishers
Create a Fire Escape Plan
- Develop a fire escape plan?
- Practice your planned escape route and discuss the possibility of hot doorknobs.
- Teach your children the Stop, Drop and Roll safety procedure.
Discuss calling 911 for Fire Assistance
Fires in the home are certainly not expected or welcomed during the holidays. With just a few intentional fire safety measures, you can have a holiday filled with beautiful decor, bountiful family meals, and warm fireplace gatherings. Review these fire safety tips when doing your holiday decorating and home and meal preparations. Then, do a thorough maintenance and supply check of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers. Finally, design and practice a fire escape plan for your family. These few simple proactive fire safety tips can keep your family safe and your holidays merry and bright…with the right kind of light!