Each year fires occurring during the holiday season injure 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage.
According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), there are simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following some of these tips you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.
PREVENTING HOLIDAY TREE FIRES
Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases. For a dramatic video demonstrating just how quickly a room can become engulfed by a fire starting in a holiday tree visit the USFA web site.
Selecting a Tree for the Holiday - Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Caring for Your Tree - Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame, or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Disposing of Your Tree - Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
Maintain Your Holiday Lights - Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories.
Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets - Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires; they should not be warm to the touch.
Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on Unattended
Use Only Nonflammable Decorations - All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
Never Put Wrapping Paper in a Fireplace - It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.
Artificial Holiday Trees - If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
USE CARE WITH CANDLES
Candles Can Be Dangerous - If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree - Do not go near a holiday tree with an open flame - candles, lighters, or matches. Similarly, never use lighted candles in holiday displays on table tops or mantles that include tree branches or other flammable decorations.
HOLIDAY COOKING SAFETY
Cooking equipment is the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries in the United States - Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. Use turkey fryers outdoors away from buildings and items that can catch fire. Never use a turkey fryer in a garage or on a wooden deck.