The Payson Fire Department reminds us as the holiday season approaches, "Watch out this winter."
They are asking the community of Payson to take some simple precautions to ensure relatives, friends and neighbors are kept as safe from fire injury as possible.
They also remind everyone that residents are entitled to a free home fire safety check, and a free smoke alarm if you are without one.
At this time of year, people are more likely to light fireplaces, use holiday lighting and light candles. Sometimes they are using items that have not been maintained for a year or more.
Residents are offered the following information and safety tips:
Wood stoves, fireplaces and chimney assemblies are estimated to account for more than 100,000 residential fires each year, resulting in almost 200 deaths. The dangers associated with this type of heating system usually result from improper installation or maintenance.
Have your chimney swept before lighting a fire if you haven't used it for some time. Place hot ashes in a metal container outside your home away from combustible materials. Use water to cool the ashes, if needed, and it is always good practice for every home to have an easily accessible fire extinguisher. Don't burn wrapping paper in fireplaces. It burns rapidly and will cause flash fires.
Lights: Only use approved lights that have the UL label on them. Never use indoor lights outside and check those old sets of lights for broken sockets or frayed wires. Remember to turn lights off when leaving the house and/or going to bed for the night. Don't run cords through doorways that could cause a tripping hazard or under rugs where they might become damaged, short out and cause a fire.
Candles: Candles are a traditional and beautiful part of the season. But they are a direct source of fire in your home. Never leave candles unattended. Always keep them a safe distance from all flammable objects and never use them as decorations on or near trees. Open flames are fascinating to children. So, always keep them out of their reach.
Christmas Trees: Dried out trees present a very serious fire hazard. A dry tree could be consumed by fire in less than 30 seconds. Check the tree's water often -- a 6-foot tree can absorb about a gallon of water every two to three days. Don't place the tree where it will block usual pathways or doors. Remember to always turn off the lights before going to bed or when leaving the house. Use caution with decorations that look like candy or have removable parts. These have the potential to choke.
Because over 90 percent of fire deaths occur in homes between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. while occupants are asleep, properly installed and maintained smoke alarms will provide an early warning signal to your household. This alarm could save your life and those of your loved ones by providing the chance to escape. Test alarms monthly and maintain them according to the manufacturer's recommendations.