The fire roaring in the fireplace, the Christmas tree lit brightly with twinkling lights, the smell of apples and cinnamon wafting from the candles and the aroma of Christmas dinner roasting in the oven. Here in Atlanta, these are all things that we associate with the holidays, but if not given the proper attention could be potentially dangerous fire hazards.
Hazard #1 – Cooking
Although there are many other causes of holiday fires, cooking remains the number one cause of residential fires both during the holidays and year round. Pay proper attention to what you are cooking and never leave pots or pans unattended on the stovetop. Always have a fire extinguisher accessible in case of emergency.
Hazard #2 – Christmas Trees
During 2005-2009, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 240 home structure fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 13 deaths, 27 injuries, and $16.7 million in direct property damage annually. (NFPA)
Prevent Christmas Tree Fires:
Choose a tree that is bright green with no browning and that is not dropping needles. The trunk should also still be somewhat sticky to the touch. Cut a few inches off of the trunk and put it in water as soon as possible, keeping it watered daily to prevent it from drying out. Make sure that the tree is not placed too close to the fireplace or any heating vents. These can dry it out very quickly, making it much more flammable. Lastly, do not dispose of the tree in your fireplace or fire pit. The safest and best option for disposable is to take it to your local home improvement store for recycling.
Hazard #3 – Candles and Lighting
In addition to fires started by Christmas trees, an estimated additional 150 home fires are caused by holiday lights and other decorative lighting each year. Candle usage also increases during the month of December, causing a spike in candle-related fires.
Safety Tips for Holiday Lighting and Candles:
- Never leave burning candles unattended. Make sure to blow out all candles and unplug your tree lighting before bed.
- Do not place candles or decorations too close to heat sources or next to heating vents.
- Use clips not nails or staples to hang strands of lights.
- Follow manufacturer guidelines on how many strands of lights you can connect (usually about three strands). Also make sure to check for frayed wires or cracked light sockets before hanging.
Hopefully with these tips, everyone will enjoy a safe and wonderful holiday season!
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