9 Ways to Minimize Holiday Fire Risks

December 12, 2019

This holiday season, we want to make sure you and your family stay safe.  Here are 9 ways to avoid some of the most common causes of holiday fires:

1. Be Safe with Christmas Trees

Place trees, wreaths and garlands 3 feet away from heat sources like fireplace and radiators.  Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Be sure to check that artificial trees and decorations are made of flame-resistant or flame-retardant materials.

If you have a live tree, water it daily to prevent it from becoming dry.  Although Christmas tree fires are not common, the explosiveness of dry trees makes them very dangerous if they do occur.  Use a tree stand that can’t tip over and unplug the lights overnight and whenever you leave the house.

2. Give Candles Their Distance

Always keep candles at least a foot away from anything else that could catch fire, such as ornaments or curtains.  Don’t leave candles burning when you’re asleep or away from home; in fact, you should extinguish flames whenever you leave the room. Place menorahs, kinaras, and decorative candles on a non-flammable surface or lay aluminum foil or another flame-resistant material down first if placing on wood.

3. Inspect Your Fairy Lights

Check labels for proof that the product has been tested at a reputable independent laboratory.  You might want to consider LED lights since they are safer than their incandescent counterparts.  Get rid of any cords that are frayed or damaged and make sure all bulbs are working and tightly connected.

Do not string together more than 3 strands of lights or 50 bulbs, and connect the lights to a surge protector before plugging into the wall. Turn off and unplug them when you’re asleep or away from home.

4. Beware of Kitchen and Cooking Fires

Always pay attention to whatever is cooking and remove potentially flammable items (like oven mitts, wooden utensils, and food packages) from the stove-top. Remember that grease fires should be extinguished with baking soda, NOT water.

Also keep in mind that outdoor cooking carries its own risks, especially if you are using a large deep fryer for your turkey.  Make sure you are a safe distance away from the house and do not overfill with oil.

5. Keep an Eye on Boxes and Gift Wrap

Leaving boxes, wrapping paper, tissue paper, and embellishments lying around means that there’s even more flammable material in your home that could come in contact with a candle or a heater.  Be sure to clean up the aftermath of present unwrapping in a timely manner.  Do not attempt to dispose of gift wrap or trim by putting it in the fireplace as it can be made from materials that release dangerous fumes when burned.

6. Tend to Lit Fireplaces

If you don’t use your chimney often, have it inspected ahead of time to make sure it’s in working order.  Burn only dry and seasoned wood and use a screen to keep sparks in the fireplace.  Never leave a burning fire unattended and keep anything flammable at least 3 feet away from the fireplace.

7. Don’t Underestimate the Heat of Smoldering Embers

Leave embers in the fire place with the damper open until they’re cool to the touch.  Once cool, place them in a metal container and leave it outdoors away from the house for at least 24 hours.  Try to dump embers on a non-flammable surface instead of on leaves or in the woods in case they are still holding any heat.

8. Use Electronics Responsibly

It’s easy to use appliances and electronics while you are distracted by all the holiday commotion going on around the house.  Keep an eye on those being used and be aware of heaters by not leaving them unattended.  Do not string multiple extension cords together, run cords under carpets, or overload your electrical outlets.

9. Don’t Neglect Matches and Lighters

Make sure to keep matches and lighters safely out of reach of children.  These can be deadly – the USFA warns that the number of deaths that results when children play with fire doubles in the month of December.  You can reduce the chance of a holiday fire by making sure you’ve installed working smoke alarms throughout your house.

Stay safe during this holiday season! If you have any questions about fire safety or your coverage, contact us today and one of our agents will be happy to assist you. Happy Holidays!


Source: The Hartford Extra Mile