The holiday season is a time for celebration, togetherness and joy. Regardless of how you choose to observe this time, there’s something for practically everyone to enjoy. Even if you don’t celebrate any particular holiday during winter, the cooler temperatures and snow can be delightful.
However, with winter comes new threats to fire safety. From Christmas trees to Hanukkah candles, electricity and flame are common features of this time. That means new precautions for your home that need to be followed for events that are free from danger.
Winter statistics you should be aware of
From 2015-2019, fire departments across the country were busy responding to an average of 160 home fires that originated from Christmas trees, leading to a mean of two deaths, 12 injuries and $10 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Holiday decorations, cooking accidents and candle fires were also large contributors to fires. In many instances, Christmas decorations that were too close to a heat source were the primary causes, causing an average of one death, 26 injuries and $13 million in damages.
Fires could be the result of cooking appliances that were in close proximity to other sources of heat or candles that were left unattended. Christmas Day alone has a 2.5 times heightened risk of accidents because of candles that caused nearby flammable materials to catch fire, according to the NFPA report.
Ideas for staying safe during winter
By following proper safety cautions, you can help prevent property damage and possible loss of life from happening in your home. Here are some ideas for how to stay safe during the wintertime:
- Don’t leave candles unattended. Always extinguish candles before you leave the room. Don’t fall asleep with lit candles nearby and keep them at least one foot away from anything that can catch fire. Bedrooms are full of flammable materials, so it’s best not to use candles in these places, according to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI).
- Keep your Christmas tree away from heat. Place Christmas trees far from fireplaces, space heaters or any other potential fire hazard.
- Avoid running cables under furniture. Cables can cause nearby objects to catch fire if placed close to flammable material, so don’t put them under furniture or rugs.
- Replace your extension cords. Old extension cords can wear out and become dangerous. If your cables have any frayed areas or are insufficient sources of power, buy new ones.
- Make sure nearby fire hydrants are easily accessible. If there are any obstacles between your home and a fire hydrant, it can delay a fire department’s ability to respond. In addition, don’t allow ice to accumulate on it.
- Keep your smoke detectors in good working order. This means ensuring that their batteries are sufficiently charged, and the device is still working. Many smoke detectors have testing features, so take advantage of them.
- Don’t use indoor decorations outdoors and vice-versa. Don’t use power sources meant for inside the house outside, either. Remember to use clips instead of nails to hang decorations — nails can damage cords and lighting, increasing the risk of fire.
- Always plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. Follow the included safety instructions if you use any alternative heating sources such as space heaters. Don’t plug them into extension cords or power strips.
Have a safe holiday and winter season
Many causes of fire are easily preventable if you know how. Avoid accidents with these tips and avoid the common origins of flame. With a little knowledge of what starts fires and how to avoid them, you can help your home and the people in it stay safe, happy and healthy as they enjoy the festivities.