While we all enjoy decorating and entertaining during the holiday season, it is important to take extra care to prevent tragedy. The NFPA reports nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays, claiming more than 500 lives. To ensure a fire-safe holiday season for everyone, we would like to offer the following Christmas fire safety tips.
The Christmas Tree
- Select a freshly cut tree. It will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard. A tree with high moisture content is safer, so try to get a tree with a vibrant green color and noticeable fragrance. Very few needles should fall when the butt of the tree is tapped on the ground. The stump should be sticky with resin and needles should bend, not break.
- Place the tree in a stand that will hold a couple of liters of water and top it off daily, always keeping it immersed in water.
- Use a stable tree stand for better balance.
- Do not block doors and make sure not to set your tree up near a heat source such as a radiator, heating duct or fireplace.
- Never use lighted candles on the tree.
- Remove the tree within 2-3 weeks. After that amount of time in a heated building, even the freshest tree can start to dry out.
- Choose decorations that are flame-retardant, non-combustible and non-conductive. If there are young children or pets in your home, avoid very small decorations.
- Avoid using angel hair (glass wool) together with spray-on snowflakes. This combination is highly combustible.
- Do not use metallic ornaments on the tree. If they make contact with defective wiring they could become a shock hazard.
- Use UL Listed light strings/sets.
- Inspect light strings/set before use. Check for cracked bulbs and for frayed, broken or exposed wires, and discard if faulty.
- Use the proper lights for the environment. Indoor light strings/sets should not be used outdoors because they lack weatherproof connections. Some outdoor light strings/sets burn too hot indoors.
- Do not use electric light strings/sets on metallic trees. A faulty system could energize the tree and shock or electrocute anyone coming into contact. Illuminate metallic trees with colored floodlights placed at a safe distance from the tree and out of reach.
- Turn off all tree and display lights before retiring for the night or before leaving the house.
- Put candles in sturdy holders on a stable surface, well away from drafts, curtains, children and pets.
- Place candles away from absolutely anything that could catch fire.
- Never leave burning candles unattended.
- Burn them only when a responsible adult is overseeing the flame.
- Snuff them out before leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Don’t use Christmas trees for firewood.
- Never burn gift wrappings, boxes, cartons, or other types of packing in the fireplace. They burn too rapidly and generate far too much heat.
- Don’t hang Christmas stockings from the mantel when the fireplace is in use.
- Always use a screen in front of the fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
- Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Use only seasoned and dried wood.
- Never leave the fire unattended or let it smolder.
- Clean the ashes regularly. Place the ashes in a metal container and store outside away from flammable materials.
The Kitchen Grease and fat fires are a leading cause of home fires, so be extra careful when doing this kind of cooking. Here’s what to do if grease in a pot or pan catches fire:
- Smother the flames by covering the pan with a lid.
- Turn off the heat immediately.
- Use baking soda (flour can be explosive) on shallow grease fires.
- Never turn on the overhead fan, as this could spread the fire.
- Never throw water on a grease fire.
- There is often a tendency to overload wall outlets during the holiday season. This is an unsafe practice and should be avoided even for short durations.
- Inspect all cords before using and make sure they are UL-certified. Look for loose connections or frayed or exposed wire. Discard any defective cords. Read the labels and manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper use.
- Insert plugs fully into outlets. Poor contact may cause overheating or shock.
- To avoid possible overheating, do not coil or bunch an extension cord which is in use and do not run it under carpets or rugs.
Last but not least … test and make sure your smoke alarms work. You should have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home. For information on how you can better protect your home and family against fire with a professionally monitored home security system check out our top-rated security providers.
Last Updated on December 12, 2019 by The Home Security Advisor
Good point about not overloading plugs…
Thank you for your comment and have a Safe and Happy Holiday!
Very informative – especially the reminder to change the battery in the smoke alarm.
Thank you for your feedback. Most smoke detectors require a 9 Volt battery. Best practices suggest checking them twice a year…usually when you change the clocks for daylight savings. Have a safe and happy holiday!