12 Fire Prevention & Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

The two most common days for home fires in the United States are Christmas and Christmas Eve. Fire officials encourage everyone to make safety a top priority during the entire holiday season.

One of the primary causes of holiday house fires is cooking. Heating comes in second place. The increased use of candles on Christmas and New Year's Eve, increase the risk of fire even further.

Some additional helpful tips to stay safe this holiday season:

  1. Turn all lights off. When using any decorative lights in or around the house or tree, be sure they are turned off when no one is in the room. If you are using older strings of lights, consider switching to newer LED lights. LED lights are not only more energy efficient they also don't get as hot as older lights can.

  2. Install sufficient smoke alarms and make sure they are working. Every level of the home should have a working smoke detector. Ideally there should be one in each common room and bedroom. At a minimum, be sure they are placed strategically so occupants can hear them regardless of where they may be in the house. Alarms older than 10 years should be replaced.

  3. Water fresh trees every day. A fresh tree should be watered daily to ensure it does not dry out and become a fire hazard. Both artificial and fresh trees should be kept away from candles, heaters and fireplaces.

  4. Use carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless, so it is considered a silent killer. Carbon monoxide detectors seven years of age should be replaced.

  5. Make a fire escape plan. The fire escape plan should include two separate exit options. Designate an area outside of the home, a safe distance away, where occupants should meet. In case of fire, remember to stay outside and call 911 immediately from a neighbor's phone or a cell phone. Do not go back into the house for any reason.

  6. Do not leave candles unattended. Before leaving a room or going to sleep, make sure all candles have been blown out. Maintain a one-foot clear area around lit candles, and make sure they are placed on flat and steady surfaces.

  7. Use extension cords with care. Do not overload extension cords or power strips. Avoid putting cords under rugs to lower the risk of fire.

  8. Use space heaters cautiously. Never leave a space heater running when the room is not occupied. Heaters should be at least three feet from any item or wall. Do not use old space heaters that are not UL approved.

  9. Do not leave burners unattended. Watch all cooking food closely. When baking, set a timer and keep it within reach. If pan does catch on fire, put a lid on it to smother the fire. Turn the heat off immediately.

  10. Be responsible when drinking. Alcohol plays a part in many fatal fires, so watch out for guests or hosts around open flames when drinking is a part of the celebration. Alcohol and fire don't mix.

  11. Smoke outdoors. Make sure all guests know to smoke outdoors, and provide ash trays so they do not toss cigarette butts in areas where they could cause fires.

  12. Keep lighters and matches safe. If there will be children present, make sure lighters and matches are kept out of their reach.

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