By taking simple precautions, you can avoid potential fire hazards and keep your holidays from going up in flames.
Christmas tree safety
Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, they are more likely to be serious when they do occur.
- Picking the tree. If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant. Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Placing the tree. Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1"-2" from the base of the trunk. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit. Add water to the tree stand & be sure to add water daily.
- Lighting the tree. Never use lit candles to decorate the tree. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer's instructions for number of light strands to connect. Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- After Christmas. Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.
- Use care when decorating your home this holiday season. Nearly half of holiday decoration fires happen because decorations are hung improperly or placed too close to a heat source. Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Remember to check the rating as some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use and not both. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect. Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
- Candles may be pretty to look at but they are a cause of home fires. Remember, a candle is an open flame which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn. Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep. Keep candles at least 12'' away from anything that can burn. Think about using flameless candles in your home. Many of them look and smell like real candles.
- If you do burn candles, make sure that you adhere to the follow guidelines. Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily. Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface. Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame. Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire. Don’t burn a candle all the way down put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container. Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
Cooking is often a relaxing and fun task that brings family and friends together and it provides a great way to showcase your creativity and love of good food. But cooking is also the number one cause of home fires and home injuries & the leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking. Be on alert! Being mindful while you are cooking, can go a long way to helping prevent these fires.
- If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food.
- If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire: oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from your stovetop.
Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the winter months. However, some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
- Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed & always use the right kind of fuel as specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Be sure to test your smoke alarms monthly.
By following these fire prevention tips and measure, you can greatly reduce the risk of fire in your home, and enjoy a safe holiday season. Remember, if you have any doubt about fighting even a small fire... Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number from outside the home.