Decorating for the holidays is a joyful time. The bright colors. The cozy fireplaces. The cheerful music. Cheesy, yet wonderful specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas and Frosty the Snowman. The chocolate peppermint bark. It’s the perfect time of year to host a white elephant gift exchange. During this time of giving, it’s important you help keep fire safety top of mind.
Here are 8 tips for fire safety this holiday:
- Regularly water your live Christmas tree Your tree stand has a water basin. Put at least 1 gallon of water in the basin. Tree fires are rare, but dangerous. A fire can spread quickly on a dry tree. Maintained trees provide less kindling, so a fire takes longer to spread. Keep the tree at least 3 three feet away from any heating source and certain lighting.
- Be cautious using candles The National Fire Protection Association estimates that candles cause an estimated 15,600 house fires, 150 deaths, and 1,270 injuries each year. Nearly half of these fires start because the candle is too close to combustible material. To stay safe, follow these tips:
- Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn (this includes Christmas trees)
- Place candles where pets and children can’t reach them
- Never burn candles near windy or drafty areas
- Blow out candles when leaving the room or going to sleep
- Avoid overloading outlets Many people overload outlets for lighting purposes. Older homes with outdated wiring have an even higher risk for fire during circuit overload. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises homeowners to connect no more than three strings of holiday lights to a single extension cord. Always check each light for exposed or damaged parts.
- Buy an air fryer Cooking with deep fryers can be dangerous and cause fire. Air fryers are a newer and safer option. Follow proper instructions and precautions while cooking. Don’t cook too many dishes at once. Have your fire extinguisher nearby. Remember to never put water on grease fires.
- Install multiple smoke detectors Sadly, more than 50% of deaths caused by a fire occur in homes without any smoke alarms, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Install at least 1 smoke detector per floor. Your kitchen and every bathroom should have fire alarms too. Check your smoke alarms at least once a month. Replace any dead batteries right away.
- Schedule a chimney sweeping You don’t want Santa getting dirty going down your chimney. Clean your chimney at least twice a year. Dirt can block your chimney’s flue, which can cause smoke and carbon monoxide to build up in your home. Excessive creosote can ignite and create a fire hazard. A chimney sweep will remove the dirt, dangerous oils, and even water.
- Create and practice home fire safety drills Teach children proper procedures during a fire, including:
- Signs of fire
- Ways to escape the house
- Memorizing and repeating the street address
- How to call 911 after getting to safety
- Practicing stop, drop, and roll
- Visit your local fire station to learn more about fire prevention Take part in programs offered by the local fire department. Help your neighbors by volunteering during events, trainings, or other activities to educate the community.