The holidays are a time of joy, warmth, and fellowship. This should be a time for happy memories of friends and family. All too often in our rush to find presents, bake cookies, and host the perfect party, oversights are made. One of the leading causes of holiday tragedies is due to home fires that could have been prevented.
The following fire prevention tips are simple and practical and will help ensure your memories are of good food, great people, and your favorite holiday songs.
Christmas Tree Fire Prevention and Safety:
- Keep trees securely upright in a stand to ensure that it will not accidentally tip over or be knocked over by children, pets, or over-enthusiastic dancing adults.
- Keep your tree away from any and all heat sources. This includes electrical outlets, radiators, space heaters, and fireplaces.
- Make sure natural trees are well watered.
- If you have purchased an artificial tree, please make sure it is labeled “fire retardant”.
- Unplug the tree lights before leaving your home or before going to bed.
- Avoid using real candles on a tree, especially if it is not artificial. Real Christmas trees contain a lot of natural oils that are very flammable, especially if the tree is dry.
- Use a maximum of three strands of tree lights on a single extension cord.
- Dispose of your tree at an appropriate recycling center promptly after the holiday season. Your community may also offer pick-up services from your home—this is also a good option.
Holiday Lighting and Fire Safety:
- Unplug any lighting, indoor and out, before going to bed.
- Never leave any candles unattended. It only takes a moment to light and blowout a candle. It also only takes a moment for a spark from a candle to turn into a big fire.
- Avoid using live candles (candles with a flame) on windowsills and mantles.
- Do not let pets or children chew on strands of lights meant for the tree or home décor.
- Make sure the cords used for lights and other decorations are not frayed. If they are, it is time to get rid of them. It is easier to buy a new strand of lights than to try to restore your home after a fire.
- Do not run electrical wires under rugs.
- Make sure all candles are in sturdy holders that will not tip over and are placed away from furniture and other home accessories.
- Trim candle wicks to a ¼-inch in height.
Fireplace & Woodstove Fire Prevention:
- Always have a professional inspect your fireplace annually.
- Inspect your stove or fireplace for any cracks.
- Always use a screen in front of your fireplace while it is burning.
- After the holidays are over, do not try to get rid of your Christmas tree, wreaths, or leftover wrapping paper by burning them in a fireplace or stove.
Additional Fire Prevention and Fire Safety Tips:
- Keep all items three-feet away from radiators, baseboard heaters, and space heaters.
- Exercise caution if using a space heater in a bedroom. Never place a heater next to a bed, especially a child’s bed, as blankets could ignite. Place the heater in a place where a sleepy person getting up in the middle of the night will not trip over it and get burned or have a bad fall.
- Keep a list of emergency contacts handy, including the number for your home or renter’s insurance company and a fire restoration specialist should the unthinkable happen.
- Make sure all fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors in your home are in good working condition. Replace dead batteries. Replace any alarms that are over 10-years-old. Install a fire alarm on every level of your home and one outside of every bedroom door.
- Keep fire extinguishers handy on every level of your home in a place where they can be easily accessed. Keep an extinguisher in your kitchen and by any fireplaces or stoves.
Should the unthinkable happen, do not hesitate to immediately call a fire restoration company. Services a fire restoration company can offer include restoring documents damaged by fire or water, cleaning the home of toxins and molds, drying out your home, and so much more. Always remember: fire prevention is quicker, more efficient, and more cost effective than having to deal with the aftermath of an actual blaze in your home.
~Flora Richards-Gustafson, 2008
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Lambert, Trina.: “Safety During the Holidays.” Safety.com. 8 November 2008