Did you know that December is the month with the highest number of home fires?
With Thanksgiving, Christmas and the cold weather season here, many homes are decorated with candles, lights, nice smelling flowers, and gorgeous Christmas trees.
Although holiday decorating is essential and fun for many American families, the flammability, excessive use, and carelessness also poses a higher risk of home fires.
Home fires can spread fast and be very destructive. And in too many instances, house and apartment fires lead to loss of lives and/or properties. To ensure that you enjoy this winter holiday season in peace, we have prepared a list of winter holiday fire safety tips that you can observe to keep everyone safe.
1. Be aware of where and how you use candles
Did you know that more than 1/3 of all home decoration fires are started by candles? Candles are popular essential components of winter decorations. So it’s advisable for users to exercise caution when there are burning candles in the house.
- Do not place burning candles near any flammable household items such as your Christmas tree, towels, curtains, books, or bedsheets. The recommended distance is one foot minimum.
- Never leave your house when a candle is burning. Always stay close and awake to monitor each of them.
- Keep burning candles at a safe distance that is out of reach by pets and children who may accidentally knock them over
- Before you go to bed or out, ensure that you burn every candle out
- Ensure every candle has a stable base and when your guests leave, visit every room and ensure that all candles that were burning are completely burned out.
2. Use caution with holiday string lights
When using holiday lights, take extra care if your house was constructed before the mid 1980’s. The electric panel in houses built before this time can easily be overwhelmed and short out. Some of the additional fire preventive tips that you should adhere to are;
- Check the condition of the cords and lamps. If they are beginning to look worn out, dispose of them
- Check the user manual carefully to know how many strands can be safely connected
- When hanging holiday lights, avoid using nails as they can damage your holiday lights putting them at a higher risk of house fires. Instead, use plastic clips as they are non-conductors.
- Always buy holiday lights which have been tested and certified by relevant laboratories
- Do not overload the electrical circuit by connecting too many lights to the extension cord
- If a holiday light is designed to be used indoors, use it indoors only and vice-versa
- Ensure that all lights are switched off when leaving your home or going to bed
3. The perfect Christmas tree???
A Christmas tree is a must for most homes during the Christmas festivities. Some of the fire safety precautions that you should take with your Christmas tree include;
- If you are using live trees, ensure that they are fresh, green and watered regularly. A good live tree is the one which has needles which allows you to easily pull the lights back from the branches without breaking. If you tap or shake your live tree and it sheds a lot of needles, know that it’s not fresh and you should consider picking another one.
- If it’s a freshly cut tree, keep it watered most of the time to ensure that it does not dry out within a few days and become a potential fire hazard
- If you have a fireplace, burning candles, wood-burning stoves, or any other form of open burning flame, always keep your Christmas tree at a distance
- Before you place light strands on your Christmas tree, carefully inspect them to ensure that they are in perfect condition
- Always use a maximum of three light strands for every one power extension cord to avoid overloading
- Check your extension cords for any fraying wires or damages
- Turn off your Christmas tree every time you are leaving your home by unplugging all essential electronics and appliances.
- Keep Christmas trees away from your house doors and exit routes to avoid frequent contact or blockage in case of a fire incidence
- You should never use burning candles as part of decorations on your Christmas tree. Only use fire-resistant decorations
- In case you are using the artificial Christmas tree, ensure the model is fire resistant
4. Educate Guests On Your Cooking and kitchen appliances
When cooking, your kitchen is another potential spot where house fires can originate. During winter holidays, you may even have visitors who are not familiar with the layout of your kitchen and functionality of your kitchen appliances.
To ensure safety and minimize any incidences which can result in house fires, ensure you take all your visitors through your kitchen appliances and show them how they are used.
When cooking, it’s also important to take caution and ensure all flammable items are kept at a safe place and with the required distance.
5. Prevent Chimney Fires
A chimney is another area that has a higher potential for a house fire hazard. During the winter holiday festivities, families gather together in a fireplace to get warmth as they share stories. When was the last time you cleaned your chimney?
There are chances that debris and other material have accumulated in your chimney may cause house fires if they are not removed. For maximum safety purposes, ensure that you clean your house chimney at least once a year.
6. Watch out for that wrapping paper!
If you have any waste materials such as wrapping paper, wrapping paper tubes etc. and other flammable materials, children love to play with them. Keep a watchful eye that they are not playing near the stove, fireplace, or candles with these highly flammable materials.
7. Be Mindful of Children Near the Fireplace; Wood Burning Stoves; and Candles
If you have young children in your house (living there or visiting), it’s your responsibility to ensure that you have protected them from any potential fire risk. Ensure that you have supervised your children anytime they are moving near a fireplace, burning candles, or a wood-burning stove.
When you follow the above simple to implement holiday fire preventive tips, you will minimize any chances of house fires and potentially deadly outcomes that could have been avoided. Winter holidays should be a fun moment that reunites families and friends together as opposed to being a season of losing lives and properties. A safe winter holiday is possible if homeowners are mindful and use an abundance of caution and care.
Capital Real Estate, LLC offers a few options if you have experienced a home fire. It does not matter whether or not you have homeowners insurance or not. Reach out to us through our contact form and let’s discuss it.