The holiday season represents a time for family festivities and good cheer. The holiday season is also a time when there is an increased risk of home fires. Many households engage in holiday activities that serve as some of the leading causes of home fires. Cooking, Christmas trees, candle usage and holiday decorations significantly contribute to the seasonal causes of home fires. Add to that the hectic nature of the holidays, when people are trying to accomplish multiple tasks at one time, and the chance for home fires grow even further.
With a little added awareness and some minor adjustments to holiday cooking and decorating, the season can remain festive and safe for everybody. By taking some preventative steps and following simple rules of thumb, most home fires can be prevented.
- Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries:
- Stay in the kitchen while you’re frying, grilling or broiling food.
- Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop.
- Maintain a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet away from the stove .
- Candles are widely used in homes throughout the holidays and December is the peak month for home candle fires:
- Consider using flameless candles, they look and smell like real candles.
- If you use traditional candles, keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
- Blow them out when you leave home, the room, or go to bed.
- Use sturdy candle holders that won’t tip over and placed on uncluttered surfaces.
- Avoid using candles in the bedroom or other areas where people may fall asleep.
- NEVER leave children or pets alone in a room with a burning candle.
- Christmas trees have caused an average of 250 structure fires annually:
- An artificial tree should be labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
- If you choose a fresh tree, make sure the green needles don’t fall off when touched. Add water to a sturdy tree stand and be sure to water it daily.
- Make sure the tree does not block any exits and is at least three feet away from any heat sources.
- Use lights that have the UL label and that you are sure they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
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- NEVER use lit candles to decorate Christmas trees.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
- After Christmas, get rid of the natural tree. Dried–out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage or placed outside the home. Take them to the City of Kearney’s Christmas tree recycle sites.
By following these fire prevention tips you can greatly reduce the risk of fire in your home and enjoy a safe holiday season. The holidays can quickly turn from joyful to tragic when a fire occurs. Visit www.nfpa.org/holiday for more information on safety tips.
The Kearney Volunteer Fire Department wishes everyone a safe and Merry Christmas.