As holiday season is upon us, keep in mind that residential fires are more frequent and deadly than at any other time of the year. During the holidays, there is a 34% higher chance of having a house fire and the number of fatalities per thousand is nearly 70% higher. Check out some of our tips below to prevent your home or property from becoming another statistic this holiday season.
Cooking is the top cause of holiday fires, according to the USFA. The most common culprit is food that’s left unattended. It’s easy to get distracted; take a pot holder with you when you leave the kitchen as a reminder that you have something on the stove. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires, and check that smoke detectors are working.
The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve.
To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover 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.
It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames. They make turpentine out of pine trees. A Christmas tree is almost explosive when it goes. 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 so take it down after the holidays. Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame-retardant.
Inspect light strands and throw out any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don’t run more than three strings of lights end to end. Stacking the plugs is much safer when you’re using a large quantity of lights. Check outdoor receptacles to make sure the ground fault interrupters don’t trip. If they trip repeatedly that’s a sign that they need to be replaced.
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. And take lights down within 90 days. If you leave them up all year round, squirrels chew on them and they get damaged by weather.
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 — no wrapping paper.
When cleaning out the fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal.
Remember, if you experience a loss this holiday season, give us a call. We know disasters aren’t planned and that’s why we’re available 24/7…that’s not just a number, it’s a Guarantee!