While there are dangers of fire throughout the year, the risks increase further during the holiday season. The US Fire Administration (USFA), for instance, has documented higher numbers of open-flame fires from Thanksgiving and on through to New Year’s Day. So, keep in mind the following fire safety tips to ensure a secure holiday for your family.
Cooking and baking are the top causes of holiday fires. Food left unattended because of holiday distractions are the culprits. But so, too, are grease fires that aren’t handled properly. Remember that a grease fire’s intensity is increased by the addition of water. Therefore, eliminate a small grease fire by covering it up with another pot, or baking pan, or metal lid (not glass for that can shatter) to stop the oxygen flow that feeds it. If you can’t cover it, pour lots of baking soda on it; never use flour, for that can combust. Another effective fire safety method is to use a fire extinguisher – but that would contaminate your kitchen and involve lots of cleanup afterwards.
Candle fires increase in occurrence during the holidays. To reduce this likelihood, have about a foot of space between the candle and anything near it that could burn. In terms of fire safety, have candle holders with steady bases, and even cover the candles with a hurricane globe or something similar. Never leave candle flames unattended. Put out all the candles before bedtime by walking through the home to ensure they are all blown out. More importantly, consider flameless LED candles rather than the real thing.
Christmas trees can engulf a room in flames. Some artificial trees are made up of highly combustible material. To minimize this fire safety health hazard, purchase a flame-retardant artificial holiday tree. Of course, if you prefer a fresh live tree, make sure that it is well-watered daily. Did you know that well-watered trees have lower chances of igniting? Of course, make sure to still keep the tree away from heat sources, like the fireplace or a radiator.
Decorative indoor and outdoor light strings need to be inspected regularly. Fire safety experts advise folks to remember that anything that is frayed, or has cracked wires, or even broken sockets, should be thrown out and replaced. When hanging light strings, don’t use nails or staples, for those can damage the wiring and pose an increased risk of fire outbreak. Moreover, make sure outdoor critters don’t chew up the light strings. And, always be on the lookout for any weather damage, too.
Warn your kids about playing with matches. Minors playing with fire and matches increase in number during the holidays. Hence, fire safety advocates urge everyone to keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
Practice fireplace safety. Have your chimney and fireplace inspected by a professional before using it when the cold season begins. If it needs cleaning, hire another professional for it. Are you aware that soot on chimney walls becomes a flammable substance called creosote? That has to be cleaned up off of your walls to minimize any fire risks. Also, screen the fireplace so that no sparks or embers pop out and land on nearby flammable carpeting or furniture. For more on fireplace safety, read this HGTV article on better fireplace maintenance tips.