The holiday season is in full swing. Decorations are hung, plans are made, and the race to finish holiday shopping is on. The bustle of the holidays makes for an exciting time, and a tradition for many families. Fire safety may not be at the top of that holiday list this season. It’s easy to stay safe and prevent holiday fires with a few preventative measures. Celebrate with safety this year with these top holiday fire safety tips.
Candles & decor
NFPA reports that nearly half of holiday fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source. This is easily avoidable. Other décor hazards include holiday lights. Frayed wires or overloaded circuits can be disastrous. Use only lighting evaluated by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), inspect lights for frayed wires/damage, and never leave lights on unattended. All decorations should also be labeled as non-flammable, and be wary of homemade décor that could more easily catch fire if left near a heat source like holiday lights.
Candles can be unsafe particularly around kids and pets. Fires can easily start as a result of unattended candles or candles that get knocked over. Consider using battery-operated flameless candles if possible. If you must use a real candle, keep it away from all flammable materials and in full view so you don’t forget about them. In fact, NFPA suggests keeping candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns. Additionally, make sure real candles are in stable holders and placed where they cannot be knocked down easily.
For menorahs and kinaras, place on a non-flammable surface to catch melting wax. This could be a simple metal tray.
Both real and artificial trees can pose fire risks. Real trees easily dry out and can therefore quickly catch fire. Artificial trees can catch fire if heat sources are left too close to the tree. Avoid these hazards by watering real trees daily and keeping all sources of heat at least 3 feet away from all trees.
Christmas lights are considered a source of heat and cause Christmas tree fires. Inspect all Christmas lights before placing on the tree, and don’t plug more than three strings into each other. The American Red Cross suggests you opt for a power strip instead. Overloaded outlets and flammable materials like Christmas trees don’t mix.
The placement of your Christmas tree is equally important. Make sure that your tree is kept at least 3 feet away from any heat source. This includes fireplaces, space heaters, and heating vents. The tree should be away from all doors to avoid blocking exits.
There are a number of precautions to take before you even light a fire in your fireplace.
Be certain that your fireplace is up to date on professional cleaning and that the damper or flue is open before starting a fire. Check that the chimney is unobstructed even if you have had a professional cleaning. Finally, clean out ashes from the previous fire and clear the area around the fireplace of anything that could be flammable.
When choosing wood for your fireplace, use dry and well-aged wood in a variety of shapes and sizes. Dry wood will produce far less smoke when ignited. It also burns more evenly.
Keep a fire extinguisher in reach and install safety screens or other gates to prevent risk of burns. Communicate the dangers of fire to children and store all fireplace tools, matches, etc. out of reach of children. If you have a gas fireplace, make sure that the gas switch is blocked off
Holiday fires can also happen in the kitchen. Hosting family and friends for the holidays means a busy and active kitchen area. Unattended or distracted cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires. Try to keep the kitchen area uncluttered and uncrowded as best you can. And keep kids out of the kitchen if possible.
Keep flammable items and heat sources away from each other. This includes oven mitts, kitchen towels, food storage bags, and paper. Even the clothing you wear can become dangerous if you’re working around open flames. Roll up those sleeves and be mindful of heat sources. Use the back burners on the stove when you can, and avoid overcrowding counter tops.
Another tip to ensure kitchen safety is never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance. It can overload the circuit and cause a fire. Extension cords were not intended for cooking appliances. Instead, cook only with equipment intended for cooking and plug cooking appliances directly into an outlet.
Crowded shopping malls and retail stores can be dangerous. Some mixed-use areas may not have proper means of fire extinguishment, or it may be so crowded that exits are blocked or out of clear view. We may not be able to control holiday fires that break out in busy shopping areas, but we can stay fire aware.
Fire safety may be the last thing on your mind while out doing your holiday shopping but it takes only seconds to identify emergency exits. Know your way out when entering a store or shopping mall. If exits are blocked, say something. Accidents unfortunately do happen in shopping malls and retail spaces. Staying aware when out shopping can be a simple yet lifesaving tool.
Fire Systems, Inc.
Fire Systems, Inc. wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season. We are devoted to keeping our customers’ businesses compliant and up to date on the latest fire code requirements. Our 33 years in business enables us to provide customers with an extensive knowledge base of the fire protection industry. As one of Atlanta’s most established and well-respected fire protection companies, Fire Systems offers all services from fire sprinkler to fire alarm. Contact us today at 770-333-7979 or visit our website for more information.