During the holiday season, families are busy wrapping gifts, decorating the house and enjoying each other’s company. Unfortunately, it’s a time of year when people tend to overlook a critically important topic – fire safety.
Using holiday lights, improperly caring for fresh Christmas trees, unattended burning candles, using fireplaces and cooking all increase the risk of home fire related deaths and injuries during the holidays.
Cooking fires are very common and often result from unattended cooking and human error.
To help prevent residential fires and reduce the risk of personal injury, safety experts recommend the following:
- Water Christmas trees frequently to keep them moist as dry trees are considered a fire Always unplug Christmas tree lights and electronic toys and trains before leaving home or going to sleep.
- Carefully plan where your tree will be positioned. Make sure it is a safe distance from any heat source and doesn’t block exit.
- Select holiday decorations that are flame resistant, flame retardant or made with non- flammable materials
- Do not overload electrical outlets; turn off and unplug decorations before going to sleep or leaving the house.
- Never leave burning candles unattended, and keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, including Christmas trees.
- Always keep an eye on the stove when cooking for holiday visitors.
- Test smoke alarms and replace batteries as needed. Replace smoke alarm units every 10 years or sooner.
- Place fire extinguishers on every level of the home, including in kitchens, hallways and garages. Ensure that each adult family member knows where every fire extinguisher is located and knows how to use one.
- Have your home heating systems and appliances inspected by a qualified professional before the holidays to ensure all is in proper working order. Have your chimney inspected for cracks and/or blockages.
- Ensure the flue is open before starting a fire in a wood burning fireplace to prevent carbon monoxide from building up in the home.
- Develop and practice a fire escape plan with the whole family. Plan two exit routes for each room, and practice your escape plan at night to mimic the most difficult fire situation you might encounter. Never re-enter a burning home. Be sure that someone is responsible for waking young children and escorting them to safety.