Tips for a Fire Safe Holiday

The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, holiday decorations, lots of entertaining, and an increased risk of fire. In 1997, 400 fires were started by ignition of Christmas trees. Decorating with candles can also be a fire hazard. Between 1993 and 1997, there were 8,690 home fires caused by candles, with 104 associated deaths and 947 injuries. Nearly $126 million in property damage resulted from candle fires in that period of time. Consider these fire prevention tips to help keep your family safer during the holidays:

  • Holiday Lighting – Place candles in sturdy, non-combustible holders, and keep away from decorations and other combustible materials. Check candles frequently and don’t leave children unattended in a room with lit candles. Don’t display lighted candles in windows or near exits in case you need these to escape.
  • Holiday Entertaining – Use caution with holiday decorations and whenever possible, choose those made with flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.
  • When cooking for holiday visitors, remember that unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires, so “stand by your pan!”
  • For smokers, provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. Completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding. After a party, always check inside and under upholstery and cushions and inside trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
  • Christmas Trees – Choose a fresh Christmas tree, and put it in a stand designed not to tip over. Place the tree well away from heat sources and exits, and water it constantly. If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant. Look for the UL fire safety label.
  • Only purchase lights that bear the mark of a testing laboratory. Replace any frayed or damaged cords. For outside decorations, use only those lights labeled for outdoor use.
  • Always unplug all lights before leaving home or going to sleep and don’t overload electrical outlets. Use only battery-operated lights if you have a metal Christmas tree, or decorate without lighting.
  • Put the tree close to an electrical outlet so you will not need to use an extension cord. If you have more than one string of lights, use only a heavy duty cord.
  • Use only lights in perfect condition and that have a tag showing they are approved by Underwriters Laboratories.
  • Never use electric lights on a metal tree. There is a danger of electrical shock!
  • When the needles go brittle or begin to fall, this is a sign that the tree is drying and should be removed.


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