Holiday Fire Safety Tips
As the holiday season gets into full swing, many families decorate to spread some cheer and make their homes more festive. While holiday decorations can be fun and beautiful, they can also present fire hazards. Because many holiday traditions like decorating and baking take place in the home, it’s the peak time for home fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Here are some things to consider to keep your home and your family safe this holiday season:
- Never try to fight a fire yourself—instead, call 911 immediately. According to the NFPA, 55 percent of all civilians who are injured in home fires are hurt while attempting to fight the fire themselves.
- Stay in the kitchen when you’re cooking, so you can always keep an eye on your food.
- Check your home’s smoke detectors to ensure they’re working. Your home should have at least one smoke alarm on every level, and preferably one outside every bedroom. Check every smoke alarm once a month to ensure that it’s functional and loud enough to wake you up in the event of a fire.
- Keep all flammable materials and fire starters up high where children won’t be able to reach them.
- Check your home’s electrical systems to ensure that they in working condition, and that no power outlet is overburdened with appliances.
- Make sure that any medications, glasses or other essential materials are easily accessible if you must escape your home quickly.
- Make a fire escape plan with your family, and practice it at least twice a year. You should identify two ways to escape from every room in your home in case flames or smoke block an exit.
Don’t spoil your holiday fun with unnecessary mishaps. Celebrating the holiday season with colorful lights and a tree can add more than just sparkle to the festivities—they are also a fire hazard. Use caution when decorating to enjoy the season safely. Here are a few suggestions for your holiday decorating:
- Only buy electrical decorations that have a UL rating on the label, which indicates that they have been tested for safe use.
- Use lights as intended: indoor for indoor use only, and outdoor for outdoor use only. Follow all installation and usage instructions for lighting decorations to ensure that you are not increasing your chance of starting a fire.
- Inspect new and used lights before using them and discard any that have cracks, exposed wires or loose connections. Throw away light strings that are damaged.
- Do not connect more than three sets of lights to an extension cord at one time.
- Plug outside lighting only into a ground fault circuit interrupting (GFCI) outlet, as this will safeguard the outlet from any interaction with water.When running extension cords along the ground, make sure to elevate plugs and connectors with a brick to keep snow, water and debris out of the connections.
- Do not secure outside lights with tacks, staples or nails, and avoid placing indoor extension cords under carpeting, rugs and furniture.
- Unplug lighting decorations before going to bed and leaving the house.
- If you set up a live Christmas tree, place the tree in a sturdy stand at least 3 feet away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or heating vent. The tree should also stand in a sturdy, water-holding stand that is refilled daily. Make a 1- or 2-inch diagonal cut from the trunk of a Christmas tree before placing it in a water-holding stand. This will allow the tree to collect water more easily. The stand should also have widespread legs and water in it at all times to reduce the risk of fire.
- Only keep your Christmas tree for two weeks, because it will dry out quickly and can become highly flammable.
- If you blow a fuse while decorating, discard the faulty light string or decoration and replace the blown fuse. If the fuse blows again, contact an electrician to investigate the problem further. This might indicate a more serious wiring problem in your home.
- Unplug lights and blow out candles when going to bed or leaving your home. Also, watch kids and pets around candles and lights.
It’s important to review your homeowners or renters insurance to ensure that your home and personal belongings are covered for fire damage. Contact your Marshall & Sterling representative today to see how you’re covered.