Prevent Christmas Fires
The holidays are fast approaching. It’s the time for festive cooking and get togethers with family and friends. We’re pretty sure you’re ready to bring out holiday decorations from storage and dust them off. After all, the holidays will not be complete without the flickering candles, colorful baubles, twinkling lights, sparkly tinsel and of course, the Christmas tree.
To make sure that your holidays stay merry and bright, here are some safety tips to prevent Christmas fires:
Prevent Christmas Fires - Choose Your Decor Carefully
For many people, decking their homes with beautiful decor is a cherished tradition. However, many of these decorations also increase the risk of fires. If not carefully put up, seasonal decorations can often be hazardous.
Christmas tree. If you are using a real tree, buy a fresh one and ensure that the base of the trunk is in water at all times. Make a habit of checking the water level each day to ensure that your tree is properly hydrated.
Live trees are a fire hazard due to needles and tree sap. And a dried-out tree is in an even greater danger of catching fire.
If you do opt for an artificial tree, check the labels. Make sure it is fire resistant. This makes it less susceptible to catching fire.
String of Lights. If you’re using lights from Christmases past, check them all for safety. Discard any set that is frayed, has broken sockets or loose connections.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, unsafe holiday lights account for nearly $9 million worth of property damage annually.
Here are our additional tips on preventing Christmas fires caused by lights:
≻ Buy lights or any electrical equipment that has gone through independent testing by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories.
≻ Never use flimsy extension cords. Extension cords should always be heavy-duty, quality cords that are grounded for fire safety.
≻ Do not overload your extension cord. Use a maximum of three standard-sized sets of lights per each extension cord.
≻ Make sure that the lights are not damaged while in use, especially outdoors. Securely fasten to trees or walls or other sturdy support using insulated staples. Alternatively, use hooks (these can be purchased at hardware stores) to hang lights. Never use nails or tacks to put up your string of lights.
≻ While this may be a no brainer, it still happens - electric lights on a metallic tree. This is a no-no. Metal being highly conductive, it can get charged with electricity from a faulty wire. A person (or a curious pet) can get electrocuted if they touch the tree.
≻ To protect against electric shock, we recommend plugging any outdoor lights and decorations you’re using into circuits with GFCI’s (ground fault circuit interrupters). If you love putting up colorful lighted displays on your front yard (or back), we recommend having a qualified electrician permanently install GFCI’s to your household circuits for safety.
≻ Finally, to prevent Christmas fires from unattended Christmas lights which could short out, turn them off before going to bed or before leaving the house.
Candles. There’s something magical and romantic about the flickering lights of candles. They create the right ambiance and provide wonderful fragrance.
However, left unattended or placed near combustible materials, candles can cause tragic Christmas fires. Annually, candles account for 40% or 2 out of every 5 holiday decoration fires.
If you’re using candles, follow these safety tips:
≻ Keep candles on a solid and sturdy base to prevent them from tipping over.
≻ Never leave lit candles unattended. Before leaving the room, and certainly before turning in for the night, blow out any lit candles.
≻ Prevent Christmas fires by keeping lit candles away from children and pets.
≻ Make sure that candles are not placed near combustible materials including curtains, furniture upholstery and other Christmas decorations.
≻ Don’t put candles on window sills. Curtains may blow over them or blinds can accidentally close and start a fire.
≻ Keep candle wicks short at all times. Ideally, wicks should be trimmed to a quarter of an inch long.
≻ If you like the look of novelty candles, make sure that they do not contain combustible materials. Also avoid those that have flammable paint, dried flowers or leaves, paper or those that come in breakable or meltable holders.
≻ Do not let candles burn out completely. Put them out when they burn down to within 2 inches of the holder or any decorative material.
≻ If you like the look of candles but not the danger, consider using flameless, battery-operated ones. However, practice caution with these substitutes as well. Though they are not as flammable, the LED lights can still get hot. Turn them off when leaving the house to prevent Christmas fires.
Prevent Christmas Fires - Holiday Entertaining and Cooking
Christmas is a time for family gatherings and friend get-togethers. Make sure that your home is cozy and warm, and fire safe during the holidays.
≻ If there are smokers among your guests, designate a smoking area outside of your home.
≻ Provide ashtrays and wet any cigarette butts with water to ensure no embers remain before discarding.
≻ Keep matches or lighters away from curious children who may play with them.
≻ Make sure your home’s smoke alarms are working. Orient your guests on your home fire escape plan, and make sure they know where the exits in your home are located.
≻ You can get frazzled and distracted with all the holiday cooking. Make sure that you stay in the kitchen when doing any cooking. Never leave things unattended as food can burn and cause kitchen fires.
If you are broiling, grilling or frying food, stay in the kitchen until all cooking is done. If you must leave, turn off the stove to prevent Christmas fires.
≻ In the event of burning food in a pot or pan, cover it with a tight-fitting lid to smother the flames and turn off the heat.
≻ Use a timer to remind you of anything that you have put on simmer, roast, bake or boil. Check regularly to ensure that nothing is burning or overheating.
≻In the kitchen, keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetops. This includes oven mitts, towels, curtains and even wooden spoons and utensils. Carefully discard food packaging so they do not catch fire, as well.
≻ If you are sleepy or have had too much of that mulled wine or eggnog, just stay away from the stove or cooking. Better safe than sorry, we say.
Annually, US fire departments respond to an average of 200 fires that started with Christmas trees causing $10 million in direct property damage. More tragically, these fires resulted in an average of 3 deaths and 15 injuries per year.
Sobering statistics, right?
Holiday Safety - Preventing Christmas Fires - Let Us Help
We hope these tips on how to prevent Christmas fires help keep your holidays merry AND safe. However, sometimes accidents do still happen.
If you have experienced a Christmas fire and/or water damage in your home, trust in the expertise of FIVE STAR RESTORATION. We are an experienced, licensed restoration company who can clean and restore your home quickly and safely.
A Christmas fire and the ensuing fire and smoke damage, and water damage is distressing. FIVE STAR RESTORATION can help you get back to normal as painlessly as possible.
Call for 24/7 Service Now.
Reach out to us at 951-368-2227.
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