Fire safety in your home is a topic close to both our hearts. With our experience as a firefighter and an emergency room nurse, we have witnessed people’s worst nightmares. Many tragic events can be avoided with prevention and safe practices. We want to everyone to have a safe and healthy holiday. There’s no place like home for the holidays and no better place to implement good fire safety practices.
- One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
- Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. On average, one of every 31 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home fires.
- A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four of Christmas tree fires.
- December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.
- One-third of all candle fires start in the bedroom. The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve.
- For additional facts about fires during the holidays: Facts about home holiday fires
There are steps that can be taken to reduce the risks of death and injury from a home fire this holiday season. It is critical that families keep fire safety in mind while enjoying this festive, exciting and extremely busy time of year. Take steps to protect your family and home from holiday season fires.
1) Candle safety: To reduce the fire danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.
2) Tree prevention: To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. 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. No matter how well the tree is watered, it will start to dry out after about four weeks, so take it down after the holidays. Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame-retardant. Put a freeze on winter fires.
3) Clean the Fireplace: Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote, so before the fireplace season begins, have your chimney inspected to see if it needs cleaning. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet, and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood — no wrapping paper.
When cleaning out the fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal.
4) Install and Check your Smoke detectors: Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year. Having a working smoke alarm reduces one’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.
5) Electrical cord safety: Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis. Make sure extension cords are properly rated for their intended use, indoor or outdoor, and meet or exceed the power needs of the appliance or device being used. You should inspect cords for damage before use. Check the cord for cracked or frayed sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections. Never use a cord that feels hot or is damaged in any way. Do not run extension cords through walls or ceilings. This may cause the cord to overheat, creating a serious fire hazard. Make sure that cords are not pinched in doors, windows, or under heavy furniture, which could damage the cord’s insulation. Insert plugs fully so that no part of the prongs is exposed when the extension cord is in use.