It’s time for the holidays! People are busy running from store to store to get their gifts, visiting family and friends, decorating their homes, and so much more. However, with such hectic schedules this time of year, we can forget the simple things like safety. What measures can you take this holiday season to ensure that you are safe? Read on for safety tips from Director of Safety and Health Jim Ruggiero.
According to the National Fire Protection Association and the United States Fire Administration, from 2013-2017 approximately 160 home fires involve Christmas trees each year. An additional 150 home fires occur because of holiday lights or other decorative lighting. Combined, these fires have resulted in roughly 21 deaths and 25.2 million dollars in property damage. This doesn’t even include fires caused from cooking, which are often reported during Thanksgiving. In 2018, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,630 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the peak day for such fires.
What steps should you take to prevent a holiday fire? First and foremost, when it comes to Christmas trees, always make sure you pick a tree that is greener and does not have needles falling off when you bend the branches. The dryer a tree is, the more flammable the tree becomes. After you put a tree up in your home, be sure to constantly water it to prevent it from drying out. When you are finished with your tree, do not burn the tree. Be sure to dispose of the tree properly at a recycling center or by having it taken away by a pick-up service. For Thanksgiving, be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer, or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child. Stay in the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.
Although we are always lured to the bigger, brighter holiday homes, it is good to be cautious of how we maintain our lights. Do not overload any electrical outlets in your home and make sure to inspect all lights for frayed wires, cracked sockets and any other imperfections. Only use nonflammable decorations and avoid leaving any candles unattended. Also, avoid putting any wrapping paper in the fireplace because it could result in a very large and dangerous chimney fire.
Another major preparation tactic you should use, not only during the holidays, but also year round, is to make sure your smoke detectors have fresh batteries. In case there is a fire, it is good for families to have evacuation plans, and remember to keep all exit paths clear.
When we get so caught up in the holiday chaos, it is good to take a step back and look at what we could be missing. Something as small as watering the tree consistently can make the difference between a happy, safe holiday and a possible deadly disaster.
Wishing you a happy and safe holiday season!