With the onset of the holiday season, it is important to focus on fire safety and prevention. The celebration of the season brings with it increased usage of electric lights, decorations, candles, and the ever popular Christmas tree, all of which can be potential fire hazards. Additionally, cooking fires increase during the holidays as families and friends gather to celebrate. By following general fire safety precautions, potential holiday fires, deaths, and injuries remain preventable.
What’s a traditional Christmas morning scene without a beautifully decorated tree? If your household includes a natural tree in its festivities, take to heart the sales person’s suggestion – “Keep the tree watered.”
Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.
Selecting a Tree for the Holidays
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
Candle Fire Safety
With the holidays fast approaching and the increased usage of seasonal decorations, it is important to focus on candle fire safety and prevention. Because the majority of candle fires result from human error and negligence, candle fires and their associated casualties are preventable.
Top Five Days for Home Candle Fires
1. Christmas Day
2. Christmas Eve
3. New Year’s Day
4. New Year’s Eve
Here is what you can do to help have a safe holiday
• If possible, avoid using lighted candles.
• If you must use candles, place the in sturdy holders.
• Keep candles away from children and pets.
• Be sure to extinguish candles after each use.
• Never leave burning candles unattended.
By following a few candle fire safety tips, everyone can enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.
Causes and Circumstances of Home Candle Fires
• On average, one home candle fire is reported every 34 minutes.
• More than half of all candle fires start when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations is too close to the candle.
• In one-fifth (20%) of candle fires, the candles are unattended or abandoned.
• Almost two-fifths of home candle fires begin in the bedroom.
• Falling asleep is a factor in 12% of home candle fires and 26% of the associated deaths.
• December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 13% of home candle fires begin with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.
• One-half of home candle fire deaths occur between Midnight and 6 am.
• Young children and older adults have the highest death risk from candle fires.
• The risk of fatal candle fires appears higher when candles are used for light