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Fire Prevention Tips for the Holidays

The holiday season can be a joyous time of the year but Christmas lights, open-flame candles and cooking adds increased risk of a fire in our homes. Visiting family and friends bring excitement and much hustle and bustle and alcohol flows more freely causing us to be less vigilant.

Before the celebrities are in full swing, review these fire prevention tips and keep your loved ones safe:

  • Check for faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with extension/appliance cords and plugs also cause many home electrical fires.
  • Keep natural Christmas trees watered! Neglected trees dry quickly and become a fire hazard.
  • Christmas tree lights can short-circuit and cause a fire if the wiring is old or damaged. If in doubt, don’t take chances … buy new ones.
  • Open flames from candles, lighters or matches can quickly ignite a dry tree.
  • A fireplace without a  proper screen can “spit” sparks that start a fire to carpet, furniture or anything within range. Check that the screen covers the entire fireplace opening and always replace it immediately after stoking the fire.
  • Keep curious children and pets away from candles, Christmas trees, and other decorations.
  • Never leave food unattended on a stove.
  • Keep cooking areas free of flammable objects (such as, potholders and towels).
  • Avoid wearing clothes with long, loose-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Never smoke in bed or leave burning cigarettes unattended.
  • Do not empty smoldering ashes in a trash can, and keep ashtrays away from upholstered furniture and curtains.
  • Never place portable space heaters near flammable materials (such as, drapery).
  • Keep all matches and lighters out of reach of children. Store them up high, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Install smoke alarms on every floor of the home, including the basement, and particularly near rooms in which people sleep.
  • Use long-life smoke alarms with lithium-powered batteries and hush buttons, which allow persons to stop false alarms quickly. If long-life alarms are not available, use regular alarms, and replace the batteries annually.
  • Test all smoke alarms every month to ensure they work properly.
  • Devise a family fire escape plan and practice it every six months. In the plan, describe at least two different ways each family member can escape every room, and designate a safe place in front of the home for family members to meet after escaping a fire.
  • If possible, install or retrofit fire sprinklers into home.

When January rolls around and the Christmas decorations are put away, most of the safety rules for fire prevention still apply. Print the list and keep it handy for a periodic check. It’s very easy to forget to monitor details that will keep your family safe from a devastating fire. 

By Natasha Morgan of NotJusttheKitchen