As you deck the halls this holiday season, the City of Milton Fire Department wants you to be fire smart and have a safe and bright holiday by following the following holiday fire safety tips:
A small fire that spreads to a Christmas tree can grow large very quickly.
Picking the tree
- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
Placing the tree
- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
- Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
- Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.
Lighting the tree
- Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
- Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
Facts about home holiday fires
- One of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems.
- Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. On average, one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.
- A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every six of Christmas tree fires.
- More than half (56%) of home candle fires occur when something that can catch on fire is too close to the candle.
- December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 11% of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.
Cooking Safety Tips
- Cooking is the biggest cause of home fires and fire injuries.
- You can prevent cooking fires.
- Take these steps to keep your family safe:
Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
- Then no one can bump them or pull them over.
Watch what you are cooking – Keep an eye on what you fry:
- Fires start when the heat is too high. If you see any smoke or the grease starts to boil, turn the burner off.
Stand by your pan:
- If you leave the kitchen, turn the burner off.
Keep a pan lid or baking sheet nearby:
- Use it to cover the pan if it catches on fire. This will put out the fire.
Heating Safety Tips
Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Almost half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Test smoke alarms monthly.
Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is called the “Invisible Killer” because it’s a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. More than 150 people in the Unites States die every year from accidental non-fire related CO poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators. Other products include faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces.
- Install and maintain CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of carbon monoxide.
- CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home.
- Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and the sound of CO alarms.
Flipping a light switch. Plugging in a coffeemaker. Charging a laptop computer. These are second nature for most of us. Electricity makes our lives easier. However, we need to be cautious and keep safety in mind.
• In homes with small children, install tamper-resistant electrical receptacles.
• Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords.
• Only plug one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) into a receptacle outlet at a time.
• Pinching cords against walls or furniture or running them under carpets or across doorways can cause a fire.
• Use extension cords for temporary wiring only.
• If receptacles or switches feel warm, shut off the circuit and have them checked by an electrician.
• Do not place cloth over a light bulb to diffuse or soften the light. Buying a low wattage or soft white or pastel light bulb can help you achieve this effect without creating a fire hazard.
• Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture.
Call a qualified electrician or your landlord if you have:
• Frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
• A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
• Discolored or warm wall outlets
• A burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance
• Flickering or dimming lights
• Sparks from an outlet