With the holiday season comes a lot of bright and festive decorations. These decorations often involve lights and candles. While beautiful, they pose a fire hazard that needs to be considered to keep everyone safe. Here are some fire safety tips that will help prevent any unnecessary injuries and damage.
Nix the candles
Candles are a pretty addition to any holiday setup, but they definitely pose a fire risk. According to the NFPA, candle fires peak in December and January, with 11% of candle fires each month. Candles are easy to knock over, especially if you have children or pets running around.
They can also come into contact with flammable decorations and ignite a fire. Instead, use LED candles to brighten up any display. If you do opt to use real candles, make sure they are places away from anything that can catch fire and out of reach of pets and children. Remember that pets, especially cats, can make their way onto shelves and fireplace mantles.
It’s important to make sure that you take every precaution possible if you plan to light a fire this holiday season. Using the fireplace not only adds to the ambiance but can keep your home warm on cold days, helping to save money on heating.
Before lighting a fire in your fireplace, you must ensure you have the chimney properly cleaned so smoke can escape freely and the fire won’t be contained, leading to a chimney fire.
Having a professional inspect and clean your chimney is a good idea, especially if you haven’t used the fireplace in a while. According to Golden Chimney, there are approximately 25,000 chimney fires annually in the US. Other things to consider before lighting your fireplace include:
- removing decorations that dangle over the fireplace
- removing stockings
- keeping all decorations at least 36 inches from all heat sources (fireplace)
- using fire-retardant garlands and wreaths, even if they won’t dangle
- keeping a fire extinguisher nearby
Test smoke alarms
With all of the potential fire hazards that will be in use during the holiday season, it’s crucial to ensure every smoke alarm in your home is working. Test them all and replace batteries if necessary. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, now is a good time to get one.
This is also a good time to go over a fire escape plan with your family. There should be at least two ways out of the home if a fire should occur. According to the NFPA, in 2021, the three leading dates for home structure fires caused by cooking were Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Keep friends and family safe by making sure all smoke detectors are in working order so your home fire alarm will sound in an emergency.
Choose decor wisely
You may be fond of strings of lights that have been in your family for 30 years, but they can pose a fire hazard. Before deciding whether you’ll use them this year, inspect them well to check for any signs of fraying.
Avoid using any lights that appear to have wires showing where the insulation has become thin. Exposed electrical wires can arc and create fires. Lights made recently have a higher level of safety, especially in the fuse box, so investing in new strings is a good idea.
While tinsel is pretty, it is also highly flammable and something you may want to avoid. If you do use it, make sure your Christmas lights don’t touch it.
Both real and fake Christmas trees can pose a fire risk. Real trees tend to dry out. The more fresh the real tree, the slower it will dry out. Whichever tree you choose, make sure it is placed away from curtains and furniture to avoid them catching on fire in the event one starts.
The holidays are bright and beautiful with all the decorations that make an appearance. It’s important to remember fire safety while enjoying them. This holiday season, keep everyone safe. The last thing you want to deal with at an already stressful time of year is a fire.