As our fellow Californians continue to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of this fall’s Santa Rosa fire, we can’t help but continue to enforce the need for fire safety—especially as we are now in the middle of the holiday season.
But why does fire safety matter so much this time of year? Here are a few reasons to consider:
- 30 percent of all home fires happen during December, January, and February.1
- On average Christmas trees cause 260 home fires annually, resulting in 12 deaths, 24 injuries, and $16.4 million in property damage.2
- Candle fires are four times more likely to occur during the winter holidays.3
- The top three days of year for candle fires are Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.3
While it’s a wonderful time of year, it can also be a dangerous one. We want to ensure that the safety of you, your loved ones, your belongings, and your home are safe this holiday season. And to make sure you are, we pulled together the following holiday fire safety tips:
1. Keep the Christmas tree away from any heat source
Christmas tree fires are no joke. In fact, on average, one of every 22 home fires started by Christmas trees result in death.1 And, in 26 percent of Christmas tree fires and 80 percent of related deaths, some type of heat source was too close to the tree. 1
A Christmas tree—especially a freshly cut, yet drying out one—is essentially fire fodder. Don’t give these decorations any excuse to spark up by placing them in close proximity to fireplaces, base-board heating, pellet stoves, or radiators—to name a few.
Also, make sure your tree has plenty of water and in some cases, you might even want to consider investing in a humidifier—anything to help keep the tree from drying out too much before New Years.
2. Pay close attention to the kitchen
According to the USFA, cooking is the top cause of holiday fires. This is typically due to something that’s been left unattended—like burning a roast or accidentally putting a kitchen towel too close to the burners. Make sure you set timers for food or stay in the kitchen to keep an eye on things as they cook. Also, keep a fire extinguisher handy just in case.
3. Give the candles some space
When the nights are dark and cold, there is nothing better than the soft, warm light of a candle. Unfortunately, in addition to ambiance, candles are one of the many offenders when it comes to holiday fires.
If you’re going to light a few candles, make sure they:
- Are never left unattended
- Have a foot of space between the candle and something flammable
- Are in sturdy containers or sitting on solid surfaces
If you want a really foolproof alternative, flameless LED candles are anazing—and many of the modern versions are even remote controlled.
4. Inspect those holiday lights
Never plug in any string of holiday wires that look frayed or broken. We often store these away for 11 months out of the year so you’ll want to carefully inspect any set of holiday lights before putting them on the tree or house.
While the above are all a good place to start when it comes to holiday fire safety tips, check out the Red Cross for more information on preventing fires.
You’ll also want to make sure you scan and digitize any old photos so that even if—heaven forbid—a fire does happen, it won’t wipe out decades of family history and invaluable memories.
1. National Fire Protection Association
2. Electrical Safety Foundation International
3. U.S. Fire Administration
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