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Holiday Safety Tips | Christmas Tree, Candle & Heating Safety

by Daniel Estevao on November 25, 2016

holiday safety - cooking, heating, candle, Christmas tree, fire extinguisher, etc.

We all have fond memories of the holiday season watching football, gorging ourselves, and laughing with friends and family. Many of us also have memories of a holiday disaster, whether from a home fire, a fallen tree, a burst pipe, or worse.

In order to spend more time doing the things you enjoy and less time on the phone with emergency personnel and home service companies, here are some safety tips for the holiday season.

5 Holiday Safety Tips

Give the gift of safety this holiday season with these important safety tips.

Grease Fire and Fire Extinguisher Safety

Home cooking fires skyrocket during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Make your kitchen a child-free zone while you are cooking and always have kitchen supervision over meals. Since you will most likely be cooking many things at the same time, it’s important to always have an adult in the kitchen while meals are cooking.

Additionally, make sure there is a portable fire extinguisher nearby that is appropriate for gas fires. There are different fire extinguishers rated for different uses. If you choose a multi-purpose or universal fire extinguisher, this should be able to combat any home fire in the home.

Use the PASS strategy when operating a fire extinguisher:

– Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle
pointing away from you, and release the locking
mechanism.
– Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
– Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
– Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

Other fire extinguisher safety tips include:

  • Make sure you read and follow manufacturer instructions.
  • Only use when the fire is confined to a small area and everyone has evacuated the area.
  • Make sure the fire department has been called or is being called.
  • Fire extinguishers should never be your only safety response. The best way to get everyone out of a dangerous fire situation is to have and practice a home fire escape plan and having working smoke alarms (remember to test all smoke alarms every 30 days).
  • Read the instructions on your fire extinguisher and learn how to use it before the event of an emergency.
  • Store fire extinguishers near an exit and always have your back to an open exit when combatting a fire. If smoke begins to envelop the room, you have a quick and easy escape.

Click here for more tips on How to Choose and Use Fire Extinguishers.

Click here for more Cooking and Fire Safety Tips for the Holidays.

Candle Safety

We get it—candles are a staple of the holidays. If you have a fake tree or want to fill the home with the smell of freshly baked cookies, candles might be your best bet for creating the smell and ambience you desire.

Unfortunately, candle fires are very common, causing around 10,000 home fires and 150 deaths every single year, mostly during the holiday candle-lighting season (December is the peak time for home candle fires). Candles are open flames. Anything in close proximity can and will burn.

Here are some candle safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association: 

  • Most candle fires start in the bedroom. If you are using a candle in your bedroom, don’t leave the room until you blow the candle out first. Even if you are just going to the bathroom, blow the candles out. You never know if you’ll get distracted and end up forgetting about the candles in your room. You always want to have some in the room when a candle is burning.
  • Try to avoid burning candles in the bedroom completely. One of the main reason why the bedroom is such a common location for candle fires is that people fall asleep in bedrooms. Avoid burning candles where people sleep or are prone to sleep, like the living room. It’s better to blow out the candles earlier rather than later.
  • Use candle holders; make sure the candle is on a steady surface and won’t tip over.
  • Make sure your candle is at least 1 foot away from anything that could burn. This includes clothing, drapes, tablecloths, plants, and anything else that could burn.
  • Never place candles close to the ledge or edge of anything.
  • Avoid candles on your dining room table where hair, loose clothing, and other items may light on fire. The combination of flammable materials, long hair, and hair spray, create a perfect storm for a candle fire emergency.
  • Blow candles out before they reach the bottom. Avoid burning a candle all the way. If it’s close to done, it’s done. Toss it.
  • Don’t light any candles if supplemental oxygen is used in the home.
  • Consider using flameless, battery-operated candles instead. There are many impressive models on the market right now that look like real flickering candles without the fire hazard.

Most candle fire occur when something is too close to the candle or somebody has fallen asleep. Make sure there is always candle supervision and that the open flame is at least 12 inches away from anything that could burn.

Christmas Tree Safety

The end of November or beginning of December is when most people start thinking about buying a Christmas tree. With the right upkeep, you can expect your real tree to look and smell great for around six weeks.

Here are some Christmas tree tips to prevent a mishap:

  • Look for a fresh tree. You can test freshness by trying to pull out some needles. If it is fresh, they should be difficult to pull. A sticky trunk also indicates freshness. Once a tree dries out, it becomes a fire hazard.
  • Cut around 1-2 inches off the bottom of the tree. Don’t cut at a slant; cut an even line. Drilling a hole in the center is unnecessary and won’t help water absorption.
  • Place tree into traditional reservoir stand. Use 1 quart of water per inch in diameter of the trunk. There are products that gauge the water level and automatically water the stand for you. If not, check the stand daily and refill as necessary.
  • Place the stand far away from all heat sources, especially the fireplace. Keep the tree away from central air vents as well as this will accelerate the drying process. Choose a corner of the room with an outlet nearby so that no cords are running along walkways.
  • If you are purchasing an artificial tree, make sure it is “Fire Resistant.”
  • Always inspect your electrical ornaments and lights before using. You should only buy electrical equipment that has been tested by an independent testing laboratory, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratory).
  • Make sure space heaters, candles, and any other heat source are at least 3 feet away from the tree.

Watch this video for more Christmas tree safety advice:

Space Heater Safety

As temperatures drop, home fires rise. This is in large part due to space heaters and careless space heater use.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), space heaters were only involved in 32% of home heating fires, but 79% in home heating fire deaths. Heating equipment remains one of the top causes of home fires, second only to cooking.

  • Only buy space heaters that have been tested by an independent testing laboratory.
  • If space heater or cord shows signs of damage, buy a replacement.
  • Always follow the manufacturer instructions.
  • Plug space heaters directly into an outlet. Do not use an extension cord.
  • Turn off space heaters before going to bed or leaving the room.
  • Only use space heaters as supplemental heat. Never use them to dry clothing, warm bedding, or heat the entire home. Heat your home with Pacific Air.

Read Smoke Alarm and Heating Safety.

Visit Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) for more Holiday Decorating Safety.

winter holiday safety advice for home - infographic FEMASource: usfa.fema.gov

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Wishing you a safe a joyous holiday season!