Avoiding Holiday Hazards
Pretty lights and decorations add to the feel of the holiday season, but if they are not used properly your holidays can quickly go from festive to frightening. Fortunately, by following a few simple safety tips, you can greatly reduce the fire risk in your home or business this holiday season.
Candles are widely used throughout the holidays, and December is the peak month for home candle fires. The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) statistics show, more than half of all candle fires start because the candles were too close to flammable objects. Consider using flameless candles instead of real candles. However, if you do use traditional candles, keep them at least 12 inches from anything flammable, and remember to extinguish them when leaving a room or going to bed. Use sturdy candleholders that are not likely to tip over and place candles on clear, uncluttered surfaces.
Christmas Tree Safety
The NFPA also reports, local fire departments respond to an average of 250 Christmas tree related fires each year, with the majority of these fires caused by electrical problems. If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant. If you choose a live tree, pick a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. The tree should also be clear of all exits. Make sure the tree has plenty of water every day. After the holidays, properly dispose of your tree. Dried-out trees can be a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside the home.
When purchasing decorative lights make sure they are properly labeled and have been inspected by an independent testing laboratory. It is also important to ensure you have the correct type of lights; some lights are designed for only indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Carefully inspect light strands before placing them. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than the number of light strings recommended by the manufacturer. Remember to turn off outside decorative lights and Christmas tree lights before leaving or going to bed.