The sad truth is the number of house fires and the amount of damage caused by them increases significantly during the holiday season. At ServiceMaster Restoration, we would rather see you safe for the holidays and all winter. Just a few cautionary steps can make all the difference in keeping you and yours safe.
Beginning before Thanksgiving and continuing through New Year’s Day, baking and cooking are prime activities. Since cooking is among the top causes of holiday fires, consider some safety precautions before getting started.
Check your kitchen fire extinguisher to be sure it is in good working order or keep a bucket of baking soda nearby to extinguish grease fires.
Keep towels, bags and pot holders away from flames and hot surfaces.
Clean up spills as you work, especially flammable grease.
Supervise young bakers as to safe kitchen habits.
Deep fry turkeys outdoors on level ground and at least 10 feet from buildings, trees and shrubs. Also, be sure your turkey is completely thawed before deep frying.
Never leave cooking food unattended. Distractions are one of the biggest causes of kitchen fires, as the cook leaves the kitchen to attend to guests or answer a door.
A dry Christmas tree can render an entire room in flames in just minutes. Greenery and garlands fashioned from pine branches only add to the fire hazard. Add to that the use of space heaters and candles, and it’s clear that precautions are crucial if you are to keep your family safe during the holidays.
Consider choosing a flame-retardant artificial tree in favor of a live tree.
If you must have a live tree, be sure it is fresh, or better yet, cut your own. Be sure you have a fresh cut on the trunk and add water every day.
Your tree and live decorations should be at least three feet from heat sources and fireplaces.
Strings of lights for your tree or for outdoor use should be in good condition with no frayed cords. Use power strips to avoid connecting more than three strings of lights.
Check the condition of your extension cords when you check your lights. Be sure those you use outdoors are UL-rated for outdoor use.
Use plastic clips or hangers to attach outdoor lights, rather than nails or staples that could puncture and damage wiring.
Never leave lights on when you leave your home or when you go to sleep.
Discard your tree after four weeks.
Candles and fireplaces
The warnings may seem obvious, but every year multiple tragedies occur due to unattended candles, poor fireplace practices and children playing with lighters or matches. Candles and fireplaces add wonderful atmosphere to a holiday celebration, not to mention heat during those cold days, but care should be taken when they are used.
Burning candles should be situated well away from holiday decorations and curtains, and on a non-flammable surface that will contain the melting wax.
Fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected and cleaned before use to remove flammable creosote that collects on the interior.
Keep flammable items well away from your fireplace and use a fire screen to prevent embers from flying into the living space.
Never use paper or flammable liquid to start your fire.
Keep matches and lighters used for candles and fireplaces out of the reach of children and out of sight.
Never leave a burning candle or fireplace unattended and be sure they are fully extinguished before going to sleep.
Dispose of embers from your fireplace in a metal bucket and set them outside to cool.
Don’t forget to practice these same safety habits at your workplace. Office fires, like house fires, increase significantly during the holiday season. If the boss hands you the annual decorations box, take a moment to inspect cords for frayed ends and cracked casings. Consider replacing an old artificial tree with a new one that is fire retardant and keep all decorations at least three feet from a heat source.
Most importantly, be sure fire alarms, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are in good working order and have fresh batteries. You may also take a moment to review fire escape routes with office staff.