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December 7, 2023

Fire safety tips for the holiday season

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Article Credit: Andrew Beckett of Ready Wisconsin

Team Nextdoor
Team Nextdoor

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or something else, candles and lights tend to be staple decorations in any winter celebration. And while decorations can help brighten up the holidays for many people, it’s important to ensure they are installed correctly, so they don’t become a hazard to your safety or home. 

🎄CHRISTMAS TREE SAFETY

With both live and artificial Christmas trees, it’s important to take extra safety precautions when placing them inside your home. It only takes a few seconds for a tree to ignite into a large blaze. Never place a live tree close to a heat source, such as a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame, or sparks. Be sure to water your live Christmas tree every day. 

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, electrical problems cause one of every four Christmas tree fires. Ensure you inspect holiday lights annually and replace string lights that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for limits on the number of light strands that can be connected. Remember, some lights are for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. 

💡HOLIDAY LIGHTS & ELECTRIC DECOR

Regarding holiday lights, it’s not uncommon to find a shortage of outlets to plug everything in. While it may be tempting, avoid overloading electrical outlets. Do not link more than three light strands unless the directions indicate it is safe. Always check the light strands while those decorations are in use. If they are warm to the touch, unplug and remove them. Be sure to turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when going to bed or leaving the house. Unplug extension cords when they are not in use.

🕯️CANDLE SAFETY 

Did you know that from 2012-2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 8,200 home structure fires that were started by candles? These fires caused an annual average of 80 deaths, 770 injuries, and $264 million in direct property damage. Other important facts to know (source):

  1. 🕯️Candles caused 2% of reported home fires, 3% of home fire deaths, 7% of home fire injuries, and 4% of the direct property damage in home fires.
  2. 🛏️ Roughly one-third (37%) of home candle fires started in bedrooms. These fires caused 30% of the associated deaths and 50% of the associated injuries.
  3. 😴 Falling asleep was a factor in 11% percent of the home candle fires and 21% of the associated deaths.
  4. 🔥 On average, 23 home candle fires were reported per day. 
  5. 🔥 Three of every five (60%) home candle fires occurred when combustible material was left or came too close to the candle.

23 fires daily, on average, is no small number! Never leave a burning candle unattended, and ensure they are kept at least 12 inches away from things that can burn. Instead of lighting real candles, consider using battery-operated flameless candles - that way, you won’t need to worry about forgetting to blow them out or the candle being accidentally knocked over by pets or children. 

🚨 TEST YOUR SMOKE ALARMS

To help alert you to fire danger, ensure you have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, and test them monthly. Keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries, and consider having a working fire extinguisher on every level of your home, too. Know when and how to call for help, and remember to practice your home escape plan so you know how to safely exit your home in case of a fire emergency.

Enjoy the festivities and cheer, but stay safe this holiday season!

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