Keep Your Holidays Bright and Fireproof with Holiday Safety Tips By Tod Aronovitz | 12/12/14 | 0 Comment

While holiday distractions make it difficult to keep fire safety at the forefront, many fiery accidents could be prevented by taking a few simple steps to ensure a safe holiday season. Every December there is an upswing of home fires caused by decorations, candles and Christmas trees going up in flames.

Here are some simple holiday safety steps you can take to protect your family.

Holiday Lights

Holiday lights and other decorative lighting with line voltage were involved in an estimated average of 150 home structure fires per year from 2007 through 2011. These fires caused an average of nine deaths, 16 injuries, and $8.4 million in direct property damage per year. Most occurred in December (40 percent), but 12 percent still occurred in January. Electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in nearly two-thirds (64%) of the fires involving decorative lights. Take the following holiday safety tips to prevent fires:

  • Buy lights with the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Use the correct lights for indoor, outdoor or indoor/outdoor use. Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
  • Connect no more than three strands of miniature string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands to connect.
  • Don’t use lights with worn, cracked or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Never use staples or nails to hang light strings.
  • Always unplug or switch off all holiday lights before leaving home or going to sleep.
  • Take lights down after the holidays. They are for temporary, seasonal use up to 90 days.

Candles & Other Decorations

From 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 10,630 home structure fires that were started by candles, the NFPA reports. These fires caused 115 deaths, 903 injuries and $418 million in direct property damage. About 36 percent started in bedrooms, causing 39 percent of the associated deaths and 45 percent of the associated injuries. The following holiday safety tips are recommended:

  • Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
  • Use candle holders that won’t tip easily and put them on sturdy, uncluttered surfaces.
  • Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down, or too close to the holder or container.
  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
  • Never use candles during a power outage. Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready.
  • Test your smoke alarms and know your home fire escape plan.
  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles.

Not be overlooked, the NFPA says, other decorations were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 920 reported home structure fires per year. From 2007 through 2011, these fires caused an estimated average of six deaths, 47 injuries and $12.9 million in direct property damage. The following holiday safety tips are provided to keep you safe:

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn.
  • Keep doorways and windows free of decorations.

O Christmas Trees

According to the NFPA, Christmas trees—both natural and artificial—were the first item ignited in an estimated annual average of 230 home structure fires per year during 2007-2011. These fires caused an estimated average of six deaths, 22 injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage per year. These fires also tend to be serious when they do occur with one of every 40 reported resulting in death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported in regular home fires. Electrical problems accounted for one-third of home Christmas tree structure fires and 39 percent started in the living room, family room, or den.

NFPA Christmas tree safety tips include the following:

  • Choose a live tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2″ from the base of the trunk.
  • Place the tree at least three feet away from heat sources, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water daily to the tree stand.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Do not leave it in the home, garage, or outside against the home.
  • Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

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