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No other time of year can hold a candle to the holiday season. And, that’s just one seasonal element providing winter holidays with an elevated risk for fires. Holidays also mean stringing yards of electric lights, piling on decorations and igniting welcoming flames in the fireplace, sometimes too close to a dried-out Christmas tree. A family tradition should involve placing safety prominently on the to-do list, rather than on a holiday wish list.
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has compiled a number of statistical reports on holiday and seasonal fires. And, a common cause of a December fire is a live Christmas tree. Dried-out fir trees are fuel for a fire, so if you choose a live tree, it requires daily attention.
Start by buying the freshest tree on the lot. Carefully inspect the condition of the pine needles. The needles should feel sticky to the touch and should not fall or break off when you pull your hand along a branch. Live trees need to be watered frequently as they dry out rapidly. Where a tree is placed once you bring it home is important, too. While putting it next to the hearth creates a pleasant scene, it also creates a fire hazard. Christmas trees are often staged in a family room or common living area in the center of a home, and if a centrally-situated tree were to catch fire, it could quickly spread to other rooms in the house. These types of fires are nearly impossible to put out without professional fire assistance.
Before you string the holiday lights, give them a careful inspection. Frayed wires or damaged sockets are fire threats, so don’t risk it. Heed the warnings on all light kits. Most tell you to link no more than three strands of lights together to avoid overloading sockets. Do not leave indoor holiday lights on when you’re not home, particularly on live trees.
Lighting candles is a holiday tradition for many families, and candles need company, so never leave one unattended. According to the USFA, candle-started fires nearly quadruple on Christmas Day. For that reason, always nestle candles firmly in a stable holder that cannot tip over – and keep at least a 12-inch circle around it free from anything flammable. Battery-operated candles are safe alternatives to an open flame. You get the ambiance without the danger.
As you’re opening gifts around the fireplace, don’t be tempted to toss the wrappings in the open flame. Sparks and embers can be thrown into the room or may cause a chimney fire.
The biggest cause of holiday fires? Cooking! Rather than having too many cooks in the kitchen, there might be too few. The distractions of entertaining a houseful of company can lead to unattended items left on the stove or too close to it. For example, a cookbook left on a stovetop is a recipe for disaster. It’s a good idea to have a smoke alarm adjacent to the kitchen to provide you with an alert before things get out of control.
Santa Claus has a list and checks it twice. That’s a good practice for everyone this holiday season, especially when it comes to a list of safety precautions.
Here’s wishing you the happiest, safest holiday season – from your friends at Frontline Insurance. For a new policy quote visit www.frontlineinsurance.com.