As you deck the halls this holiday season, take time to consider what you’re doing to prevent a dangerous fire. The holidays can bring with them a host of potential fire hazards, from menorah flames to Christmas light electrical sparks. Firefighters respond to an average of 860 home holiday fires every year from decorations alone. Christmas trees cause another 200 annual fires. Holiday fires are more frequent, fast burning, and deadly than other types. Many result in severe burn injuries and even death. Use smart fire safety techniques to ensure your family can enjoy your yuletide without a major disaster.
Christmas tree fires cause about $16.2 million in property damage every year. They also account for an average of 16 injuries and six deaths per year. Christmas tree fires are more dangerous than other kinds of house fires, resulting in death one in 34 times compared to one in 142 deaths that don’t involve Christmas tree fires. One-third of Christmas tree fires stem from lighting equipment, such as tree lights malfunctioning and throwing electrical sparks.
It takes about 30 seconds for a dry Christmas tree to generate a roomful of flames. Purchase a fresh tree with needles that don’t fall off when touched. The branches should be flexible. Water your tree regularly to prevent it from drying up. It’s nearly impossible to ignite a fresh, well-watered tree. Position your tree far away from any heat sources, including radiators, fireplaces, and space heaters. Artificial trees don’t pose a great threat of fires as long as you purchase a flame-retardant model.
Decorating with lights and garland is a mandatory tradition in many households. Unfortunately, defective and old lights can easily start an electrical fire. Throw out any Christmas lights that are fraying or cracked. If you see wires through the casing, it’s a fire hazard. If you’re using a large quantity of lights, don’t stack more than three strings of lights end to end. Instead, stack the plugs, as it’s safer. Use outdoor extension cords as needed, and hang lights with clips or hangers instead of staples and nails. Stapling your lights could damage them and increase the risk of fire.
Not surprisingly, open flames are a major source of home fires during the holidays. From 2009 to 2013, fire departments in the U.S. responded to more than 9,300 home fires candles started. Whether you’re a fan of holiday-scented candles or have a religious tradition that involves lighting candles, keep them well away from pets, children, and combustible materials such as curtains. Always put candles out before going to sleep. Never use real candles in a Christmas tree.
It wouldn’t be the holidays in some households without lots of delicious goodies. From gingerbread men to the traditional smoked ham, stay safe while cooking with a few simple precautions. The majority of cooking-related fires occur when the baker forgets about the food. Set a loud timer while cooking and bring an oven mitt with you into other rooms to remember you have something on the stove.
While not directly related to the holidays, space heaters are a common fixture in the home around the same time of year. Space heaters cause thousands of house fires every year, mostly due to outdated equipment. Replace old space heaters – even if they still work – and never keep a portable heater near your tree or flammable object.
Preventing a fire may not be at the top of your list of priorities among family dinners and gift exchanges, but it should be. Check your smoke detectors to ensure they are working, and keep a fire extinguisher or two on hand. The Kansas City burn injury attorneys at Dickerson Oxton, LLC hope you enjoy your holidays in safety this season.