The Christmas holiday is a joyous time for many, but for some, fire ruins their holiday. According to the United States Fire Administration, every year, holiday house fires kill more than 400 people and injure another 1,650. As someone who has been through a house fire, although fortunately not through the holiday season, I can assure you that fires come unexpectedly, and are not something that you want to go through. By taking the following precautions, you can make your home safer during the holiday season and prevent a fire from happening to you.
Prevent Christmas Tree Fires
Christmas trees are beautiful, but they do need to be taken care of, or they can become a fire hazard. When selecting a tree, make sure that the needles are green and the trunk is a little sticky. To test out a tree, bounce it’s trunk on the ground. If it has been cut too long ago and is starting to dry out, quite a few needles will fall off, and you should pick another tree. After you get your tree, keep it away from heat sources, such as fireplaces and heating vents. Always keep the tree stand filled with water, and never use real candles on the tree. If the tree dries out during the holiday season, it is safest to remove it from your home, even if Christmas has not passed yet. An electrical short on a dried-out tree can be hazardous and cause a holiday house fire.
Lighting the Home and Yard
Christmas lights can make the home look festive, but electrical shorts can cause fires. To prevent these problems, make sure that any holiday lights that you are using are not frayed, and don’t contain any broken lights. If you have to replace a light bulb, unplug the entire strand of lights first. Don’t overload electrical circuits; unless directions say otherwise, it is best to not string more than three strands together. If you string up electrical lights outside, make sure that you use lights that are approved for outdoor use. Turn off holiday lights at night, and do not leave them on when you will be away from home. When stringing lights outside, only use lights that are approved for outdoor use.
Christmas Dinner Fires
Cooking fires can occur year-round, but during the holiday season, it is easy to become preoccupied with friends and family, and forget the Christmas dinner cooking in the oven. After my house fire, I talked to several people who had near misses with fires caused by cooking. If you are baking, grilling, frying, or in any other way cooking food, make sure that you don’t forget to attend to your food. Use oven timers as reminders.
By paying attention to fire hazards during the holiday season, you can prevent a holiday house fire from happening in your home.
US Fire Administration. “A Season for Sharing in Fire Safety.” http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/citizens/all_citizens/home_fire_prev/holiday-seasonal/holiday.shtm