Fire safety and prevention tips
Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition during the holiday season, unfortunately, the addition of lights and decorations increases the chance of a house fire. A few simple holiday fire safety tips can ensure your Merry Christmas.
Candles are widely used in homes throughout the holidays and according to the United States Fire Administration, December is the peak month for home candle fires. Statistics show that candles start two of every five home decoration fires. The USFA encourages citizens to consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles. However, if you do use traditional candles, keep them at least a foot away from anything that can burn and remember to blow them out before leaving or going to bed. Candle holders that are sturdy, won’t tip over and are placed on uncluttered surfaces are suggested by the USFA. Avoid using candles in the bedroom where one-third of U.S. candle fires begin or other areas where people may fall asleep. U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 230 home structure fires caused by Christmas trees each year according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). One of every three fires is caused by electrical problems and one in five resulted from a heat source that was too close to the tree. The NFPA offers the following advice for picking, placing and lighting the tree:
- If you have an artificial tree, be sure it’s labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
- If you choose a fresh tree, make sure the green needles don’t fall off when touched; before placing it in the stand, cut 1-2” from the base of the trunk. Add water to the tree stand, and be sure to water it daily.
- Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit, and is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles and heat vents or lights.
- Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory, and make sure you know whether they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
- After Christmas, get rid of the tree. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside the home.
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.