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Have Yourself A Very Merry Fire-Free Christmas

Fire Christmas

The U.S. Fire Administration shares that the incidence and severity of fires during the winter holiday season, namely December through early January, increases. Many thoughts jump to Christmas trees as a source. Contrary to popular myth, Christmas trees do not spontaneously combust and start house fires. However, these festive trees can become fire hazards when not properly maintained, watered, or kept fresh, when dangerous lighting issues are present, or when they are placed too close to a heat source. And, unfortunately, Christmas tree fires can spread fast and be deadly. Here are some important things to know:

Close before you doze – Recently, a fire department in a Philadelphia suburb issued a safety warning. It read, “Close before you doze.” The caption was written above a photograph of a home fire to emphasize the importance of closing bedroom doors when going to sleep at night. In a statement, the fire department explains that even cheap six panel hollow-core doors can buy folks time in a fire. The interior photograph shows that no smoke or heat made it into the bedroom because the door was closed. The hallway, also visible, was extremely damaged, and up high. This also shows that it is important to stay low in a fire as well.

Create a home fire escape plan – The purpose of a fire escape plan is to teach people how to exit the home safely during a fire. This should be practiced at home and children should be taught stay calm. Children should be taught to crawl and stay low if necessary. Every room should have two escape routes. Remember to check doors for heat with your hand, and if it is hot, do not open it. If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop and roll. And, as you exit, when possible, close doors as you leave. Agree on a designated meeting space outside away from the home where everyone will gather. In a fire, head directly to a designated meeting place and do not stop to get valuables or search for pets. If you live in an apartment building, do not use the elevator. Evacuate using the steps.

Install, test, and change batteries of smoke alarms regularly – Smoke alarms will alert you if there is a fire in your home and they can save lives. Per the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), it’s important to have an adequate number of working smoke alarms within the home. Choose alarms that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. It’s a good idea to check your state’s requirements on placement. Generally, they should be installed in each bedroom, outside of each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. Smoke detectors should also be located on the ceiling at the bottom of stairways leading to the next level. Test them regularly per manufacturer’s instructions and consistently replace batteries as recommended.

Fires are more common during the holidays. Though cooking generally accounts for 49% of home fires, holiday fire fatalities are 70% higher than average and property loss is 35% greater per the U.S. Fire Administration. Thus, it’s important to take safety precautions during the holidays and work toward preventing fires. Christmas trees are an important holiday décor in most homes across America, but they must be properly maintained and cared for in the name of safety. Trees should be kept at least three feet from heat sources, such as fireplaces or radiators. Lights should be carefully inspected before use and be free of any issues that can cause a fire, such as fraying. Once trees dry out, they should be properly disposed. It is best not to use lit candles on or around a live Christmas tree. Rather, opt for battery operated candles which are deemed safer.

Sources:

Montgomeryadvertisers.com (Fires are more common during the holidays)

FrontLineWildfire.com (Fire safety tips for the most dangerous time of the year)

National Fire Protection Association (Winter holidays)

NFA.usfa.fema.gov (Residential Structure Fires Winter Holiday season)

www.nfpa.org (Home cooking fires)


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