Tips For Fire Safety During The Holiday Season
Holiday celebrations, twinkling lights, and wintry greens are hallmarks of the holiday season, but they also pose a fire hazard that can quickly turn this season of joy into a devastating one. Every year, hospital emergency rooms treat thousands of people with burns, smoke inhalation, and other injuries associated with holiday lights, decorations, and Christmas trees. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 44% of country house fires start when decorations are placed too close to a heat source, such as a candle or radiator.
As current and retired Dallas firefighters, our team means it when we say “we have seen it all”. Even the smallest heat or light source can become destructive, so we have put together tips to keep you and yours protected during the holiday season.
Around 25% of Christmas tree fires are caused by faulty electrical lighting, and another 25% of Christmas tree fires are caused by the tree being too close to a heat source, so extra precautions are critical this season.
Whether you set up a real or fake Christmas tree or have holiday plants on display, always place them at least three feet away from any heat source such as a fireplace or radiator. If you have a living tree, remember to water it every day to keep it from becoming dry or brittle. A dry tree is more susceptible to catching on fire if exposed to heat. If you are buying an artificial tree, be sure to look for a Fire Resistance label such as this one. The label does not guarantee that it will not catch on fire but indicates it is more resistant to fire.
You should also take precautions when decorating your tree with lights and avoid overloading electrical outlets. Too many strings of lights connected to one outlet can overheat and cause a fire.
Decorating your house with beautiful light displays is key to generating holiday cheer, but there are some safety precautions you have to take to ensure your home is safe.
- Attach lights securely to your house, trees, or lights post to keep them from blowing away by the wind.
- Avoid using staples or nails to secure the light cords, as they can create a fire hazard if the wiring is damaged.
- Throw away lights that appear to be old or frayed, and always use LEDs where possible. LEDs are much cooler to the touch than incandescent lights and are made of a sturdy epoxy lens, making them more resistant to breakage.
Candles have always created a great ambiance for your Christmas dinner, Menorah lighting, or holiday party, but they can, however, easily catch other items on fire as well. Keep your trees, curtains, clothing, books, paper, and furniture at least three feet away from other objects and use them only on stable surfaces. When lighting them, be careful to keep hair and loose clothing away from the fire as well.
The smell of a holiday meal cooking brings back so many wonderful memories for many of us. Still, it’s important to practice safety in the kitchen. Here’s a few tips:
- Keep flammable items away from the stove (oven gloves, tea towels, food packaging, etc.).
- Avoid wearing loose clothing that could catch fire on the stove.
- Do not leave cooking unattended.
- Set a timer as a reminder if you have something in the oven.
- Keep animals out of the kitchen to avoid the risk of them getting underfoot.
- Refrain from consuming alcohol as it can impair your ability to practice safe cooking (or better yet, enjoy your holiday spirits and let someone else manage the kitchen!)
- Be careful when handling hot foods and liquids, as steam or splashes can cause severe burns.
- When setting the table, place liquids and hot foods in the center of the table where they are least likely to topple over.
- If you choose to hop on the “deep-fry a turkey” trend, do so only outside, away from your home, and do not overfill the oil in the fryer. According to the National Fire Protection Association: Deep fryer fires cause an average of 5 deaths, 60 injuries, and more than $15 million in property damage each year. A reminder to practice a high level of safety when attempting this task.
Turn It Off
When you leave the house or go to bed, be sure to turn off all indoor and outdoor Christmas lights, electrical decorations, and the stove or oven. Also, you should blow out burning candles and turn off all lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house. For extra protection, install a light timer to automate the process of turning off your holiday lights.
Check Your Fire Protection Devices
Even if you have everything properly secured, it’s best to be over prepared. Always have a kitchen fire extinguisher on hand to put out any potential fires and make sure the smoke detectors are working properly throughout the home.
Stay Safe, Have Fun
Following these safety tips during the holiday season and throughout the year will help protect your home from multiple fire hazards. We hope these tips from our Dallas firemen family help keep your family, home, pets, and property safe during the holiday season and throughout the New Year.