Over 350,000 house fires happen every year and December and January are the peak months for these awful occurrences. A big contributor to the statistics is the holidays: during these months, we’re using fire and products that can cause fires more than any other time of year.
We want to make sure you stay safe and fire-free this holiday season, so we’ve put together a list of tips to keep your home and your family safe.
Before we get into it, the first piece of advice is to test your smoke alarms, have an evacuation route established with your family, and keep an emergency bag handy. We hope you’ll never have to utilize any of those things, but we’re all better safe than sorry.
- If you have a live tree, put a fresh cut on the trunk and keep its base full of water so it doesn’t dry out. Here’s what having a dry tree can mean where fire is concerned.
- When your healthy tree does dry out after the holidays, throw it away ASAP.
- Keep candles and other heat sources away from your tree.
- Don’t over-use Christmas lights to prevent short circuits.
- Don’t leave Christmas lights on when you’re away from the tree.
- Don’t use your tree as firewood. Christmas trees can be full of resin, which can pop and cause chimney fires.
Decorations and Traditions
- Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations are full of candles, so make sure to keep yours away from flammable curtains and decorations.
- Choose flame-resistant decorations.
- Use clips instead of nails to hang lights on your home to prevent damaging the wiring.
- Don’t leave the ovens, burners, or other appliances on unattended. Unattended equipment is the leading cause of kitchen fires!
- Even though frying a turkey is usually discouraged, we know how irresistibly delicious they are. Just be careful. Make sure to defrost your bird properly and don’t overfill the container you’re frying in with oil.
- Do not pour water on a grease fire. If a grease fire breaks out, cover it with a metal (not glass) container, and use baking soda or a chemical fire extinguisher to put it out. If the fire catches the kitchen itself, evacuate and call 911.
- Keep the area around the fireplace clear.
- Don’t leave a fire burning unattended or through the night while you sleep.
- Keep a grate around the fire, especially if kids or pets are around.
- When you’re done with your fire, scoop its ashes into a metal container in case live embers are in it but aren’t visible.
- Don’t use fire accelerators in your indoor fireplace.
- Don’t burn colored paper, cardboard, treated wood, plastics, coal/ charcoal, or evergreen trees and decorations. These can cause not only fires but chemical fumes as well!
- Keep all fire-related decorations and fire-lighting tools (matches, lighters) far out of reach.
- Make sure all lights on the tree are in excellent condition.
- Closely supervise all fire-related activities (for Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, for example).
- Teach your kids about fire safety. Don’t just tell them to stay away from candles, lights, and electrical sockets, explain to them how and why it’s dangerous and what can happen when a house fire breaks out.
New Year’s Fireworks
- Please… just don’t. Leave it for the professionals instead.
Fire safety comes down to preparedness, awareness, and common sense. So follow these tips, have a safe season, and enjoy the holidays!