Residential fires during the holiday season are more frequent, costly, and deadly than at any other time of the year. Reports show more than double the number of fires on Christmas Day than on an average day, and about twice as many on New Year’s Day. They also cause additional damage. Property loss during holiday fires are 34% greater than in an average and the number of fatalities per thousand fires is nearly 70% higher. When the source of the fire is a highly flammable Christmas tree, the toll in property and lives is unfortunately higher.
PREVENT FIRES WHILE COOKING
Cooking is the top cause of holiday fires. The most common culprit is food that’s left unattended. It’s easy to get distracted during the holidays. Take a potholder with you when you leave the kitchen as a reminder that you have something on the stove. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires and check that your smoke detectors are in working order. If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house. Deep frying turkeys have started many unexpected fires during the holidays.
PREVENT FIRE FROM CANDLES
The number of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve. To reduce the danger, maintain about 12 inches of space between the candle and anything that can burn.
Nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries
Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles. There are many beautiful LED options that mimic real candlelight.
YOUR FLAMMABLE CHRISTMAS TREE
It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames, according to the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Standards and Technology. “They make turpentine out of pine trees,” notes Tom Olshanski, spokesman for the USFA. “A Christmas tree is almost explosive when it goes.”
To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources. No matter how well the tree is watered, it will start to dry out after about four weeks, Olshanski says, so take it down after the holidays. Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame-retardant.
DEFECTIVE DECORATIVE LIGHTS
Inspect light strings, and throw out any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don’t run more than three strings of lights end to end. Stacking the plugs is much safer when you’re using a lot of lights. Extension cords should be in good condition and UL-rated for indoor or outdoor use. Check outdoor receptacles to make sure the ground fault interrupters don’t trip. If they trip repeatedly, that’s a sign that they need to be replaced.
When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples, which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers. And take lights down after the holidays. If you leave them up all year round, squirrels can chew on them and the wires will get damaged by weather.
If you follow these simple tips to avoid fire in your home this holiday season, you can spend your time enjoying family and friends knowing that you have taken the necessary safety precautions for the holidays. At the Law Offices of Hines Law, we want you and your family to have a safe and happy holiday! Although we are Atlanta car accident attorney specialists, we are here for all of your needs.