501 Life Magazine | Remembering holiday fire safety
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Remembering holiday fire safety

by Kellie Bishop

The holiday season is one of the most anticipated times of the year. We have the memories and traditions from our childhoods that we cannot wait to pass on to our own children. There are the celebrations and gatherings with family and friends, shopping for the perfect gifts, watching the season’s most cherished movies and singing along with all the classic holiday songs. 

The season would not be complete, however, without the festive décor that ignites the warm and cozy feelings of the holidays within us. We enjoy the family trips to pick out the perfect tree, decorating the house with lights and decorations, baking our family’s favorite holiday foods and enjoying movies by a warm fire with the beautifully decorated Christmas tree aglow. Unfortunately, these traditions can also bring tragedy when proper safety measures are not utilized. In fact, the Top 3 days of the year for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. However, there are some simple steps you can take to keep your family safe this holiday season!

Tips for trees

Christmas trees are a holiday staple and most of us cannot wait to get our trees up and decorated each year. If your family tradition involves picking out the perfect real tree and taking it home to decorate and enjoy, there are some crucial safety measures you should take to ensure your beautiful tree does not turn into the cause of a holiday disaster. 

Make sure you choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Prior to placing the tree in the stand at home, cut 2 inches off the end of the trunk. 

It is important to water the tree daily to prevent it from drying out and becoming more flammable. 

The tree should be placed at least 3 feet away from heat sources, including fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles and heat vents. 

Finally, ensure that your tree is not blocking any doors or windows that could be used as emergency exits. 

Although they are beautiful to admire, it is important to dispose of your tree right after Christmas, or when the tree becomes dry.

Light safety

Candles and lights are also widely used in decorating for the holidays, The most common place stranded lights are utilized is on Christmas trees and one-third of all Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems. Therefore, it is crucial to follow a few important safety steps when using lights both inside and outside your home. 

Make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions for how many light strands are safe to connect to one another. 

Inspect all of your light strands for missing bulbs or frayed wires prior to connecting them to electricity. It is also important to ensure they have a label of a recognized testing laboratory. Ensure you are using indoor lights inside your home and approved exterior lights for your outdoor decorations. 

It is recommended to use clips, not nails, when hanging lights to avoid damaging the cords. 

While stranded lights are a common holiday hazard, more than one-third of all home decoration fires are started by candles. If you are using candles this holiday season, ensure they are at least 12 inches from items that burn easily and try to decorate with flame resistant or flame retardant décor as much as possible. 

Use flameless candles whenever possible and make sure real candles are kept in stable candle holders. 

As we approach the holiday season, it is a good idea to test all the smoke detectors in your home. This is a practice that we often overlook but it is an important step prior to beginning your holiday decorating. 

It is also important to make sure you have a fire escape plan for your home, that your entire family knows the plan and that you practice fire drills as a family, so everyone is safe should a tragedy occur. 

Make sure matches and lighters are stored in a high, locked cabinet where children cannot access them. 

While smoking is never recommended, especially around children, it is particularly important to make sure your family and guests smoke outdoors during the holidays when there are flammable decorations in your home. 

Additionally, ensure all candles are blown out and lights are turned off when you leave your home or go to bed. 

Finally, ensure children and pets are kept away from open flames. Candles and fireplaces create a warm environment and are enjoyable during the holidays, but children and pets do not understand the danger of fire so it is crucial to ensure they are protected from open flames. 

The holiday season should be joyful without fear of a fire destroying your home and family. Therefore, following these simple safety measures will help ensure your family is safe and can enjoy this holiday season!