The holiday season is a time of warmth, joy, and festivities. From Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanzaa, there are many reasons to celebrate during the winter months. However, with all the candles, lights, and decorations that come with the season, it’s also a time when fires can easily start. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association reports that December is the peak month for home candle fires, with one-third of all candle fires occurring during this time. To keep your family and home safe, it’s important to take precautions and practice fire safety during the holidays.
One of the biggest fire hazards during the holidays is Christmas trees. Real trees can dry out quickly and become very flammable, while artificial trees can also pose a risk if they are not labeled as fire-resistant. To ensure your tree is safe, consider the following tips:
- Choose a fresh tree: If you prefer a real tree, make sure it’s fresh. Fresh trees are green and needles are hard to pull from branches. The trunk should be sticky with resin, and the tree should smell fragrant.
- Keep your tree watered: If you do choose a real tree, make sure to keep it well-watered. A well-hydrated tree is less likely to catch fire. Check the water level daily and add water as needed.
- Keep your tree away from heat sources: Keep your tree away from heat sources like radiators, fireplaces, and candles. Make sure your tree is not blocking any exits.
- Turn off the lights: Turn off your Christmas tree lights before going to bed or leaving your home. You can also use a timer to turn the lights off automatically.
- Dispose of your tree properly: Once the holidays are over, dispose of your tree properly. Many communities have recycling programs for Christmas trees, or you can dispose of it at a local landfill.
Holiday lights can also pose a fire hazard if they are not used properly. Follow these tips to ensure your lights are safe:
- Choose the right lights: Make sure your lights are labeled as safe for indoor or outdoor use, depending on where you plan to use them. If you’re not sure, check the packaging or ask the retailer.
- Inspect your lights: Before using your lights, inspect them for frayed wires, broken sockets, or other damage. If you find any damage, discard the lights and replace them.
- Don’t overload outlets: Avoid plugging too many lights into one outlet or extension cord. This can overload the circuit and increase the risk of a fire.
- Turn off the lights: Turn off your holiday lights before going to bed or leaving your home. You can also use a timer to turn the lights off automatically.
Candles are a common sight during the holidays, but they can also be a major fire hazard if not used safely. Follow these tips to ensure your candles are safe:
- Never leave candles unattended: Never leave candles burning unattended. Always blow out candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
- Keep candles away from flammable materials: Keep candles away from curtains, decorations, and other flammable materials. Make sure candles are placed on a stable surface and are not in danger of tipping over.
- Use candle holders: Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over. Make sure the candle fits snugly in the holder and cannot move around.
- Keep candles out of reach of children and pets: Make sure candles are out of reach of children and pets. Never leave a child or pet alone in a room with a burning candle.
Cooking is safe:
- Never leave cooking unattended: Never leave cooking food unattended. If you need to leave the kitchen, turn off the stove or oven.
- Keep flammable materials away: Keep flammable materials like paper towels, oven mitts, and wooden utensils away from the stove.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy: Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen in case of a fire. Make sure you know how to use it before an emergency occurs.
- Don’t overload the stove: Avoid overcrowding the stove or oven with too many pots and pans. This can increase the risk of a fire.
Fire Escape Plan
Even with all the precautions in place, it’s still important to have a fire escape plan in case of an emergency. Follow these tips to ensure your fire escape plan is effective:
- Plan your escape route: Plan your escape route and make sure everyone in the home knows it. Identify two ways out of every room.
- Practice your escape plan: Practice your fire escape plan with your family so everyone knows what to do in case of a fire.
- Make sure smoke detectors are working: Make sure your smoke detectors are working properly and have fresh batteries. Test them monthly.
- Have a meeting spot: Choose a meeting spot outside the home where everyone can meet in case of a fire.
The holiday season can be a wonderful time of year, but it’s important to remember that fire hazards are present. Take the necessary precautions to ensure your family and home are safe. Remember to choose a fresh Christmas tree, keep holiday lights in good condition, use candles safely, cook carefully, and have a fire escape plan in place. By following these tips, you can enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.