Holiday Fire Safety
It’s the holiday season again. It’s time for cozy nights, holiday decorations, Christmas trees, turkey dinners, parties, and unfortunately, residential fires. You can help make this a safe and happy holiday for everyone by following a few simple guidelines.
If your family prefers a natural tree, choose one that is fresh and green. Once you get it home, cut off the bottom two inches of the tree at a 45 degree angle and immerse it in water. Once you put it in the tree stand, remember to add water to the stand every day. When the tree dries out, discard it immediately. The tree shouldn’t block any exits and should be at least three feet from any heat source. Twenty percent of tree fires are caused by trees being too close to heat sources. On average, there are about 230 tree fires per year, causing 4 deaths, 21 injuries and $17.3 million in damage.
Use only non-flammable decorations. When you buy tree lights, make sure they have a label of an independent testing laboratory, such as UL. Remember that some lights are designed for outdoor use. Read the boxes carefully when purchasing and use lights appropriately. If you are using lights from the year before, inspect them for frayed wires, bare spots, excessive kinking, or loose bulb connections. A third of Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems. Most people use multiple strings of lights on their tree. It’s recommended you string no more than three mini-string sets together. If you have tree lights with screw-In bulbs, use a maximum of 50 bulbs. If you use LED strands, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for maximum number of string sets. Did you know that tree lights are designed to be plugged into an extension cord rather than into a socket? All these years, I’ve been doing it wrong! I know my family used to leave the Christmas tree all lit up in the front window all evening long, even if we were gone. We were lucky we never had a fire. Please turn off your tree lights if you leave, and when you go to bed.
Another common holiday tradition is candles. Candle- started house fires spike in December. Firefighters are called out on Christmas day, more than any other day. Half of those fires begin because candles are too close to a flammable source. Another 20% of fires resulted from candles being left unattended. Most residential fires caused by candles happen between midnight and 6 AM. Many people put candles in their window. The problem comes when they close the curtains around the candle. If candles are a part of your tradition, consider using batteryoperated candles. If you use real candles, keep matches and lighters away from children. They should not be allowed to light candles. And never leave candles unattended.
Many people are now deep frying their holiday turkeys. The fryers can be very dangerous. The turkey needs to be completely thawed and thoroughly dried before you put it into the fryer. As you’re lowering and raising the turkey out of the large vat of hot oil, splashes and spills can easily occur. These fryers have caused devastating injuries over the last few years. They are also a fire hazard. Many of the electric fryers overheat causing electrical shorts and the propane fryers have caused several home and grass fires.
On behalf of the Catron County Fire and EMS volunteers, have a wonderful holiday season, enjoy your friends and families, and please be careful, so we can enjoy our holiday too.