The holiday season is just around the corner, and unfortunately in the fire restoration business that means we’re at our busiest. Residential fires during the holiday season are more frequent, more costly, and more deadly than at any other time of the year. There are a number of factors that add fuel to these tragic statistics; but while the risk is higher during this time of year, there are steps you can take to mitigate the fire risk to you and your family during the holiday season.
To keep your household from becoming a holiday fire statistic, here are some safety tips to follow.
No matter your background, it seems that the one constant in holiday celebrations is the fact that it is centered around food. Families get together in the kitchen and cook whole feasts. With so many pots going and so many people in the kitchen, it is easy to get distracted and lose track of what we are doing. The best way to prevent kitchen fires is to pay attention and apply a little common sense. Keep all dishes and paper towels away from open flames, set timers to remind you what needs to come off the stove when, and make sure you have a working fire extinguisher close at hand in case a fire does start.
If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey do it outside on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.
Candles are a big part of holiday traditions. Their soft glow illuminates the room and some can fill the air with our favorite holiday scents, but candle-related fires are also associated with the season. To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn; keep flames away from pets and young children; set candles on sturdy bases or cover them with hurricane globes; never leave flames unattended; before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.
Nothing creates a bigger fire hazard than a 7-foot tall pile of dry kindling. A Christmas tree is almost explosive: it takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames. To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery keep them at least three feet away from heating sources.
No matter how well the tree is watered, it will start to dry out after about four weeks. Artificial trees can also reduce risk as many are created to be fire retardant.
While not all of us embrace the Clark Griswold philosophy on holiday displays, even modest illumination can pose a fire hazard. Before you set anything up check last year’s lights for any frayed, cracked wires or broken sockets. For outdoor lights only use lights rated for outdoor use. Don’t plug more than three strands of lights together on a single plug. When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples—which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers. Don’t leave lights up year-round, as weather and animals take their toll on the wires making them more likely to catch fire.
Baby it’s cold outside! Portable heater fires are common in the colder months. Make sure you use a heater with automatic shut-off if it gets too hot or tips over. Keep heaters far enough away from anything that can catch fire and do not leave a heater on unattended.
Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote; so before the fireplace season begins, have your chimney inspected to see if it needs cleaning. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet, and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood.
Even when care for safety is taken, fires can happen. If you experience a fire during the holiday season, the fire remediation experts at Branch Services can help you rebuild quickly.