Each year, fires occurring during the holiday seasons, claim the lives of over 400 Americans, injure 1,650 more and cause over $990 million in damage. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), there are simple life-saving steps people can take to ensure safe and happy holidays.
By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.
On the first day of holiday fire prevention: prepare to celebrate
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Sometimes it is better to replace them every couple of years than to use them year after year, especially older decorations.
Purchase appropriate multi-plug adapters with a surge protector. Have the fireplace inspected and the flue cleaned by a certified chimney sweep. Make sure the chimney is equipped with a spark arrester.
On the second day of holiday fire prevention: hang exterior illumination
While installing Holiday Fire Prevention lights, clear rain gutters and roof of leaves and debris. Remember this is an environment where fire season is year round. Be careful using ladders and hand tools associated with installing holiday decorations.
On the third day of holiday fire prevention: select a tree
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch.
Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out and is a fire hazard. Trunks of trees should be cut 1/2 inch from the bottom before bringing them inside.
On the fourth day of holiday fire prevention: prepare for guests
Choose an appropriate place for the tree and other holiday floral or greenery decorations. Do not place these within six feet of a fireplace or near heat vents. Check decorations for frayed wires and broken bulbs. Never ever put candles in or on your tree or decorations. Make sure the tree has a large enough base that will hold enough water to keep the tree moist. All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
On the fifth day of holiday fire prevention: do a household safety check
Check smoke detector batteries and double check candle placement. Check electrical wires and lights for excessive heat and remove those that are hot. Make sure candles are in stable holders. Never leave the house with candles burning. Consider using flameless candles, they are battery-powered and have no open flame.
If children are visiting, make sure everything is child-proof. Electrical socket protectors and cabinet locks may need to be installed. Medications need to be removed from bathrooms and out of the child's reach.
On the sixth day of holiday fire prevention: make a safety plan
Create a home safety plan that includes knowing where and how to shut off utilities. Remove gasoline and flammables from the garage and place in approved safety containers and away from ignition sources such as hot water heaters, furnaces, washers and dryers. This is especially important if guests smoke and end up in the garage for warmth. Make sure the kitchen and garage are equipped with appropriate fire extinguishers, 2A-10BC is the minimum size recommended.
On the seventh day of holiday fire prevention: think of others
Take some time to check on elderly relatives or neighbors. Sometimes they do not know or forget to follow some of these valid instructions for their own safety.
On the eighth day of holiday fire prevention: check combustibles
Keep checking and adding water to the tree and other live decorations. Be careful with gift placement and wrapping paper around the fireplace and heat vents. Wrapping paper should never be put in the fire.
On the ninth day of holiday fire prevention: plan party precautions
If hosting or attending parties, plan on having designated drivers and ensure that all candles are put out prior to going to bed.
On the 10th day of holiday fire prevention: pick a designated driver
Safely enjoy the holidays but be mindful of excessive alcohol. The risk of accidents is greater after alcohol is consumed. Make sure a designated driver is in the plan.
On the 11th day of holiday fire prevention: remember after-holiday planning
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of a tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away.
EDCO Fallbrook will pick up properly bundled trees no more than four feet in length and 18 inches in diameter with household refuse.
On the 12th day of holiday fire prevention: relax
Enjoy and be thankful for many blessings.