The holidays are a time for family festivities and good cheer, but unfortunately the holidays also present an increased risk of home fires. Cooking, candles, Christmas trees, and other holiday decorations all contribute to this seasonal increase in fires. Add to that the often hectic nature of the holidays, and the chance for home fires grows even more. However, with a little added awareness and a few safety precautions, most home fires can be prevented.
- Using a battery-operated flameless candle – there are many now that look and smell like real candles without the fire risk.
- If you use a traditional candle, use a holder that’s sturdy and won’t tip over easily and place on a flat, uncluttered surface.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
- Blow out all candles whenever you leave the room or go to bed, and never leave a child alone in a room with a lit candle.
Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious – an average of one in every 40 Christmas tree fires in the U.S. result in death.
- If you use an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
- If you use a real tree, choose one that has fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Before you place it in the stand, cut two inches from the base of the trunk.
- Add water daily to the tree stand to keep your tree from drying out.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from all heat sources, including fireplaces, radiators candles, or heat vents – a heat source too close to the tree causes one in every six Christmas tree fires.
- Never use candles to decorate the tree!
- After Christmas, get rid of the tree.
- Do not leave the tree within 10 feet of your home or garage.
- In this dramatic video, you can see how a dry Christmas tree becomes completely engulfed in flames and spreads to the entire room in less than a minute.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
- Connect no more than 3 strings of mini lights or a maximum of 50 screw-in bulbs.
- Read the manufacturer’s directions for the number of strings of LED lights you can connect.
- Turn off all light strings before leaving your home or going to bed.
- Make sure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Test each of them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
- Ask smokers to smoke outside and keep their smoking materials with them so children don’t have access to them. Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers.
- Stay in the kitchen and look when you cook! Keep anything that can catch fire at least 3 feet away from the stovetop and turn off burners when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for a short period of time.
- Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Slide the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it’s completely cooled.
- Never put water on a cooking oil fire. For an oven or microwave fire, leave the door closed and turn off the heat.
Project Safe Haven
Saint Paul homeowners can help make sure their homes are safe for the holidays by participating in Project Safe Haven. Through this free program, homeowners will get a brochure with a home safety checklist, and you can have Saint Paul firefighters come to your home to make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are installed correctly and working. They will also provide you with and install smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and stovetop fire extinguishers for free if you need them.
For more information about Project Safe Haven, call 651-228-6273 or go to http://www.stpaul.gov/fire and click on the link for Project Safe Haven and let us help you make your home a safe haven from fire.