The tree is up, the candles are lit, and the extension cords are plugged in. With all of the traditional touches comes the most dangerous month of the year. The items I list below are of special concern for us and your safety over the next few weeks and from all of us here at the department, we wish you all the best for the holiday season.
Christmas trees: More than one-third (36 percent) of home Christmas tree structure fires were reported on the 10 days between Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and the day after New Year’s Day (Jan. 2). The top day was Christmas with 6 percent of the fires.
Candles: A recent residential fire in the community of Houston Mesa due to an unattended lit candle reminds us of the importance of never leaving the house or room with candles burning. When you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame — candles, lighters or matches. Also December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 13 percent of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4 percent the rest of the year. The top five days for home candle fires were Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Halloween. Thirty-eight percent of home candle fires started in the bedroom, resulting in 41 percent of the associated civilian deaths.
Electrical outlets and cords: Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires; inside and outside the home — they should not be warm to the touch. Don’t hide cords under the carpet or throw rugs, cords may overheat according to National Fire Protection Agency, extension cord fires outnumbered fires beginning with permanent or detached (cords that can be detached from appliances) by more than two-to-one.
Fireplaces: Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from the mantel and fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open. Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
Toys and ornaments: Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children. Electric toys should be UL/FM approved. Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords or parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
Finally, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Remember to practice your home escape plan.
Don’t know what to get them this year, a new smoke and carbon monoxide alarm is always the right size and color.
’Tis the season to be “Fired Up” about holiday safety in your home or workplace.