The holidays are a time of celebration, but despite all of the good times and cheer there can be many potential dangers to you and your home. Follow these great safety tips to keep everyone happy and safe this holiday season.
Check your smoke detectors. Replace the batteries on an annual basis or when you hear a slight “chirping” signal coming from the detector. To help remember when you replaced the battery, pick a day and replace it on that day every year, such as when you move the clocks forward or backward, a child’s’ birthday, or even a holiday such as New Years’.
Have your home heating systems inspected by a professional on an annual basis and make any necessary repairs quickly. Clean the chimney and fireplace before the heating season. Use a sturdy screen in front of the fireplace. Never use a flammable liquid in a fireplace. Of course if you hang your Christmas stocking on the mantle, do not have a fire.
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, about 101,000 every year. During the holidays, the cooking performed at your house will greatly increase as your family prepares for the traditional turkey dinners with friends and relatives. Turn the pot handles in, away from the front of the stove. Do not allow small children to play in the kitchen during the time you are cooking. Don’t place a small pan on a large burner or large pans on small burners. Keep a potholder nearby to grasp those hot pan handles, do not use a towel. Don’t cook wearing long sleeves that can dangle near the burners. Unplug the appliances when not in use and certainly before going to bed. Items like the coffee pot, and toaster can continue to heat after their contents are gone. Keep a lid handy for each pan and use it to smother any flames. Don’t use water to extinguish a grease fire, it could just make a bad situation worse. Do not overload your electrical outlets with extension cords or additional cooking appliances.
Check your holiday decorations and replace any with worn or damaged wiring. Disconnect the lights at bedtime or when they will be unattended. Once again, do not overload your outlets using extension cords or a multi-plug adapter. Avoid the use of candles, certainly do not allow your children to play with the candle, matches or lighters. Melting wax can cause serious burns. Never use a candle as a Christmas tree decoration.
Christmas trees are always a fire hazard in your house. Choose a freshly cut tree, and cut a few inches off the trunk before placing it in the stand. Check the water level daily. Once the tree dries out, get it outside. Of course, keep the tree away from any heat source or sparks. Keep in mind that many of the decorations may look lovely, but can be hazard also. Holly berries can make a child very sick if they eat them, same goes for the mistletoe.
CHRISTMAS TREE TIPS
When Picking a tree… Check the needles. Run your fingers through the needles on the branches or shake the tree. If the needles come off easily choose another tree. This is a sign that the tree is drying out. A dry tree will not tolerate the temperatures of the Christmas lights and other electrical devices you may put on your tree.
· If buying a pre-cut tree, make a new cut approximately one inch above the old cut to facilitate water movement through the cells.
· Leave the tree outside until you are ready to decorate it.
· Trees that are cut early are a greater danger than trees cut relatively close to Christmas.
· Make sure the tree has water… Your Christmas tree needs plenty of water. Make sure that you fill its container with water every day. This will not only prevent your tree from drying out, but will also make for a healthier looking tree.
· Selecting a location….. When selecting a location to set up your tree, try to put it in a cool location. Avoid placing it in an area close to heating appliances or the fireplace. This will not only dry the tree out prematurely, but can also increase the chance of accidental ignition.
· Keep the tree out of high traffic areas, and away from stairways and doors.
· Secure the tree so that it cannot be knocked over by pets or a small child.
· Keep on eye on your decorations… The decorations you use can be poisonous to children and family pets. Be sure to keep all tinsel, garland, and greenery out of the reach of your small children or pets.
· Before using lights on the tree make sure that they are UL listed. Never use more than three strings of lights on one circuit. Check all light strings to ensure that the wires are acceptable. Look for signs of wearing, frayed wires or blackened wires. If any of these appear, or if your not sure if the wire is safe throw it out immediately. It is always best to purchase a new light string when ever you have any questions about the safe use of an older one.
· Make sure that all connections are tight and the bulbs and cords are in good condition, not loose or frayed as to cause a short.
· Be able to turn off the lights without having to crawl under the tree.
· Artificial trees should be made of flame resistant materials, and lights should never be used on trees with metal frames.
· Never leave the lights on when leaving the house or when going to bed.
· Keep candles away from Christmas trees. Never use candles as Christmas tree decorations.
· When shopping for Christmas tree ornaments, attempt to find ones which are flame resistant.
· After the holiday… Remove all decorations and remove the Christmas tree from your home as soon as you can. A dry tree can be very dangerous. It is also a good idea to inspect any lights or wires as you take them off as well.
· The Fire Department recommends that a tree be removed from the home in the event that it becomes dry and begins shedding needles. DON’T TAKE A CHANCE. Remove the tree as soon as possible after Christmas. Dispose of all papers and boxes at once, do not allow them to accumulate.
· NEVER burn a tree in a fireplace. Dry Christmas trees burn very hot and extremely quick. The fire may rapidly leave the fireplace and move into your room. Also, a Christmas tree is very oily and may damage your fireplace.
Practice your home fire drill now. Remind your family to know two ways out of every room. Arrange a meeting place somewhere outside and have your family memorize the emergency fire reporting number. Usually that number is 9-1-1. If your area does not have a 9-1-1 system, you can find the phone number in the front cover of the white pages and yellow pages. Post the number near each phone.
· Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
· Keep candles away from items that can catch on fire (e.g. clothing, books, paper, etc.)
· Never place lit candles in window where blinds or curtains can close over the
· Always use candleholders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily, make sure your candleholder is equipped with a reservoir to collect dripping wax.
· Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch and always extinguish votive candles and containers before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.
During Power Outages
· Try to avoid carrying a lit candle.
· Never use a candle for a light when checking pilot lights or when fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern, the candle may ignite fumes.
Candles and Children
· Keep candles up high out of reach of children.
· Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle.
· Don’t allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.
· Store candles, matches, and lighters up high and out of children’s sight and reach.