Holiday Fire Safety and Prevention Ought to be Everyone's Concern
December 13, 2018
Holiday time means holiday lights, pretty candles and more activity in the kitchen than usual. These can also mean greater risk for fire.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that one out of every four home fires involving a Christmas tree is caused by electrical problems, usually from a damaged cord. Garden City Fire Marshal Brian Finneren agrees. Finneren says either using a damaged string of lights or overloading the wall plug are the main causes of electrical related Christmas tree fires. Finneren adds that over half of tree fires in the home are due to a Christmas tree being too near to an ignition source, such as a candle or fireplace. Finneren says candles are a major culprit when it comes to holiday home fires. He urges people to keep candles a good distance from holiday decorations and away from children and pets. "Always extinguish candles or anything hot before going to bed or leaving the house," he adds.
Starting the holidays with a fresh tree which remains properly watered is less likely to catch fire quickly, allowing time to extinguish any such fire. Shoppers should look for a fresh tree with needles which are green and do not fall off. Pick the tree up by the trunk and bang it on the ground when choosing one. If the needles drop off, choose another. "My personal opinion is, the more presents you stuff around the tree, the less prone you are to water it," Finneren says. He adds that a daily watering in the reservoir is necessary to keep the tree fresh. Never allow a dried-out tree with dropping needles to remain in the house; it becomes a fire hazard.
The kitchen can also be a potential danger zone for house fires. "You're doing more cooking this time of year than you normally do," says Finneren. When using the stove or oven, do not allow yourself to become distracted by other holiday hustle and bustle. Stay near the stove and do not allow cooking food to be left unattended.
The same cautions apply to space heaters as well. "I think there are a lot of these in use in this area, " Finneren says. Never use a space heater near decorations or Christmas trees and maintain a clearance space of three feet around any space heater.
Prevention and preparation are key in combating home fires, Finneren says. Having fire extinguishers in the home can prevent a tragedy. Have one or two on each floor of your home. Every home should also have a functioning smoke detector, ideally one which also detects carbon monoxide. Test smoke detectors every month or so and change the batteries twice a year. Finneren says escaping an overnight house fire depends on a working smoke detector. "Make sure those things are working," he says. "Their job is to wake you up." Residents of Garden City who are in need of a smoke detector can contact the fire department at 734-793-1780.
More practical fire prevention tips can be found at the National Fire Protection Association's website at http://www.nfpa.org.