Preventing House Fires During the Holidays
For many families, the holidays are for traveling far and wide to spend time with family members you may not have seen all year, eat some delicious food and give gifts. However, it may shock you to know that 30 percent of all house fires and 38 percent of all house fire fatalities occur in December, January and February. To keep you family safe and warm, do not neglect to think about fire safety.
Each year, approximately 65,000 house fires are started by electrical heating equipment. If you rely on space heaters to keep your home warm, there are a few safety tips you should know so you can operate them safely.
Always read the manual before using a space heater for the first time. This manual will give you specific safety instructions and risks that you should be aware of. Before use, inspect the heater for any cracks, loose connections or broken plugs. If you see any wear, avoid using the heater. Do not ever leave a space heater unattended or let children and pets play nearby without supervision. Do not use space heaters to warm bedding, dry clothing or cook food. These heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat. Heaters should be placed three feet away from the walls and anything that can catch fire, like clothing and paper. Install smoke alarms outside your sleeping areas and on each floor. Make sure to test them once a month.
Kitchen and cooking fires are also the culprits for approximately two out of every five house fires during the holidays. The leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking. If you are going to be the main cook for the celebrations, try to avoid leaving the food unattended. If you must, most the gathering from the family room to the kitchen so everyone can have a hand in creating a delicious meal.
There are a few other things you can do to decrease the risk of a kitchen fire. For example, ensure that the stovetop and oven are clean and grease-free before you start cooking your meal. Use the back burners to prevent guests from knocking into pans and handles. Keep appliances that are not being used unplugged and out of the way. If there are children present, make sure they are supervised to prevent any shenanigans that could become a fire risk.
Fires Caused by Holiday Decorations
It is estimated that approximately 60 percent of families decorate in some way for the holiday season. Some decorate their living space with a live tree while others go the route of a realistic artificial tree to add charm. If you are going with a live tree, ensure that the tree is green and fresh as this cuts down on the risk of a fire. Newer electrical lights are generally safer than older ones; however, you should still look to ensure that there are no chewed or exposed wires.
Vintage decorations are also becoming all the rage. Vintage metal trees are beautiful and can add a unique touch. However, you will need to be extra careful with these trees as you cannot put electrical lights on them. You will need to purchase standing lights that shine on the tree. Further, vintage electrical decorations may need to be rewired if the old plugs are still attached. Using the decorations as is can put your home at risk for a fire.
The holidays should be a time when you can share the warmth and cheer with your loved ones. By reducing the risks of a house fire, you can cherish these memories without having to remember a tragedy.