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HOLIDAY SAFETY

The holiday season is a prime time for residential fires. December, January, and February are the months that home fires most often occur. Cooking, holiday decorations, candles, and heating equipment all increase the likelihood of a fire. On average, more than one-third of home fire deaths in the United States occur during the winter months. In addition to always having working smoke alarms installed throughout your home, the following tips can help you stay safe during the holiday season.

Cooking

  • Always keep an eye on food being heated and be alert. If you leave the kitchen - turn off the heat!
  • Dress appropriately for cooking. Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking and use caution when working near heat sources.
  • Keep things that can catch fire away from the stove/range and oven.
  • If a pan with grease catches fire, carefully slide a lid over the pan to smother the flames and turn off the burner.
  • Cool a burn: If you experience a burn while cooking that does not break the skin, run cool water over the skin for 10 - 15 minutes. Do not place butter or other ointment on the burn as this keeps the heat in and could further damage the skin. Severe burns, including burns that break the skin, should be treated by a physician.

Christmas Trees

  • Choose a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.
  • Do not purchase a tree that is dry or dropping needles. Try to keep live trees as moist as
  • possible by watering them daily. When Christmas trees dry out they are easily ignited. These
  • fires burn very rapidly and can easily burn down your home in a matter of a few minutes and often result in fatalities.
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.
  • Do not place the tree where it may block exits. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source (i.e. heaters, heater vents, and fireplaces) and try to position it near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances.
  • When decorating Christmas trees with lights, follow the manufacturer's instructions. Some lights are designed only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Lights should be listed by an independent testing laboratory (i.e. UL approved holiday lights). Any string of lights with worn, frayed or broken cords or loose bulb connections should not be used. Never use electric lights on a metal tree
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Be sure to place candles well away from tree branches.
  • Always unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to sleep.
  • Children are fascinated with Christmas trees. Keep a watchful eye on them when around the tree and do not let them play with the wiring or lights. Also store matches and lighters out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in a house or garage or placed against the house.

Candles

  • Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, won't tip over easily, are made from a material that can't burn and are large enough to collect dripping wax. Place candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface and do not use candles in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.
  • Keep candles away from items that can catch fire (e.g. clothing, books, paper, curtains, flammable decorations, etc.). Don't place lit candles on windows sills, near blinds or curtains.
  • Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch and extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get to within two inches of the holder or decorative material. Votive candles and other candle containers should be extinguished before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.

Heating

  • Make sure to clean and inspect furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys annually before using them for the upcoming year. Make sure space heaters are approved by a national testing laboratory and have a tip-over shut-off function.
  • Never burn gift wrapping paper or Christmas trees in the fireplace.
  • Keep furniture and other items that can catch fire at least 3 feet from heating sources.
  • Make sure all gas burning appliances, such as gas heaters, are in good shape and burn clean. Carbon Monoxide is caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances and idling cars and can cause serious illnesses including death. Install Carbon Monoxide alarms outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home.