Fire safety tips to follow for a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
The busy nature of the winter holiday season – with lots of cooking, lit Christmas trees, and candles everywhere – creates a huge fire risk.
Statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) show that fire fatalities are 70% higher during this period, while property loss is 34% greater. Between 2013 and 2017, for example, fire departments responded to 160 home fires started by a Christmas tree. Each of these fires caused three deaths, 15 injuries, and $10 million worth of property damage, on average.
Separate stats from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) show a similar trend, with candles, home decorations, and fireworks all highlighted as serious fire risks. According to NFPA, the holidays account for:
- 10% of all fireworks fires
- 20% of home decoration fires
In the case of decoration fires, the fires caused, on average, three deaths, 34 injuries, and $12 million in property damages. Candle fires also peak in December with January ranking second. The two peak days for candle fires are Christmas and Christmas Eve in that order.
Christmas Safety Tips: 4 Ways to Minimize Fire Risks this Holiday Season
The following are four fire safety tips to help you protect yourself and your family this holiday season:
1. Staying safe around Christmas trees and lights
One of the leading causes of Christmas tree fires is circuit overload. Up to 25% of all Christmas tree fires happen when people overload circuits to accommodate holiday lighting. The following holiday safety tips are recommended:
- Never overload circuits: A standard household circuit can power 300-600 strings of 50-bulb LED lights or 70 lines of 50-bulb non-LED lights. If more lights are needed, spread the light strands across multiple power circuits to prevent overloading.
- Inspect the lights for damage: Damaged, worn out, and kinked light strands can cause fires and electrocution. Before you plug in the lights, inspect them for any issues and replace damaged strands with new ones.
- Turn off the lights as appropriate: When leaving the house or going to bed, for example, make sure to switch off the lights. Alternatively, invest in a timer to automatically turn off the lights at night.
2. Candle safety
The ambiance of candlelight makes candles an essential item in festive activities. However, candles also start two out of five home decoration fires. To prevent any unwanted incidents, consider the following holiday safety tips:
- Choose flameless candles: Battery-powered candles give off the desired ambiance without producing fire and are thus a much safer option. Remember, however, that LED candles do get hot. So, turn them off when leaving the house.
- Never leave candles unattended: Whether you choose to use traditional or flameless candles, never leave them unattended. If you’re going out of the house, even for a few minutes, blow the candles off.
- Practice caution during decoration: It’s advisable to use a stable candle holder to prevent tipping off. Also, make sure that all candles are placed at least 12 inches away from flammable items.
3. Safety around electrical equipment
During the festive season, people also use electrical equipment a lot. From safety detectors to dryers, these appliances are also usually serving more people and therefore working longer. The following holiday safety tips are recommended:
- Avoid extension cords: Whichever electric appliance you’re using during the holiday season, avoid extension cords. If you must use extension cords, find heavy-duty quality ones.
- Install smoke detectors: You can never have enough smoke detectors. Make sure you have one on each level of the home, especially in the kitchen and bedrooms.
- Invest in carbon monoxide (CO) detectors: Similar to smoke detectors, you want to have a CO detector on every floor of the home. All CO detectors should be hardwired with battery backup.
- Keep heating appliances clean: Debris, dirt, and soot increase the risk of a fire. So, make sure that your heating appliances are clean.
4. Other holiday safety tips
First off, don’t leave cooking food unattended. The US fire department responds to over 154,000 cooking fires each year. Most of these fires are caused by unattended cooking equipment. Additionally:
- Keep a close eye on children: Make sure the kids aren’t touching anything that might burn them. Also, they shouldn’t get too close to open fires. Remember to tuck away electrical cables to prevent tripping.
- Dispose of decoration items safely: As soon as the festivities are over, all the items that aren’t recyclable must be disposed of properly. A drying Christmas tree, for instance, becomes a bigger fire hazard with every passing day.
Beyond Prevention; Be Prepared for the Worst
In addition to the above holiday safety tips, you need two things; a fire emergency evacuation plan and insurance. At Coleman Insurance, a Clearwater Insurance Agency, we offer commercial business insurance as well as a unique homeowner’s insurance policy that can protect your business or home in case of a fire. Contact us today to get started before your holiday festivities are in full swing!
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