As the holiday season nears, it is important to recognize that some traditional festivities increase the risk of home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), some of the leading causes of the estimated 47,000 home fires during the holidays result from Christmas trees, candle usage, holiday decorations and cooking. By following a few precautionary tips, one can significantly reduce the possibility of a fire.
Cooking: Unattended cooking is the leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire injuries. Make sure to stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. If simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, be sure to check it regularly and use a timer to remind of the cooking process..
Candles: The National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) statistics indicate that almost half of all home decoration fires are started by candles. If using candles this holiday season, consider using flameless candles. However, if using traditional candles, keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn and remember to blow them out when leaving the room or going to bed.
Christmas Trees: U.S. fire departments respond to approximately 230 home structure fires caused by Christmas trees every year. One out of every three of those fires is caused by electrical problems and one in five resulted from a heat source that's too close to the tree. When selecting a tree, consider the following:
If using an artificial tree, be sure that it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
If choosing a fresh tree, make sure that the green needles don't fall off when touched; before placing it in the stand, cut 2" from the base of the trunk. Add water to the tree stand and be sure to water it daily.
Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit and is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, candles, space heaters, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
After Christmas, dispose of the tree properly. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage or placed outside the home.
Electrical Outlets: Do not overload your electrical outlets. Follow the directions on the light sets when connecting your lights and connect the lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into an outlet. Also, make sure to periodically check the wires; they should not be warm to the touch.
For more information on holiday fire safety tips please visit,www.nfpa.org/holiday.