by Matt Wuokko

Christmas Fire Safety


The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is currently running a campaign to “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires”.  The emphasis for this is holiday fire safety.  Fire hazards this time of year include not only Christmas trees, but also many of the holiday decorations and the cooking of the holiday treats we all enjoy.  There are a few steps that you can take to be sure the holidays remain a safe and happy time of year.

According to the study completed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), from 2009-2013 there was an estimated average of 210 reported home fires where a Christmas tree was the first object ignited.  The USFA recommends:

  • Keep your tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source. A heat source too close causes 1 in 4 Christmas tree fires.
  • Keep your tree healthy and watered, a dry tree multiplies a fire’s intensity greatly.
  • Dispose of your tree promptly after Christmas.

Whether you are decorating your tree inside or choose to go for an all-out outdoor display, there are a couple things to keep in mind to help reduce a fire caused by lights:

  • Check for any broken bulbs or frayed wires.
  • Replace any old sets. Most modern light sets now come with a safety fuse inside the plug which can help prevent a short circuit.
  • Be mindful of the manufacturer’s recommendations on how many strings of lights can be combined.
  • Take caution not to overload any wall sockets.

In that same 2009-2013 survey, there was an estimated 860 average home fires where holiday decorations were the first item ignited.  Included in these holiday decorations are candles, which cause 2 out every 5 decoration fires.  It comes as no surprise that Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day are the top 4 days for candle fires in the home.  A couple things to remember:

  • Keep any lit candles in secure holders.
  • Keep them at least 12 inches away from anything flammable.
  • Do not leave any unattended.

Each year we hear about the statistics of cooking fires on Thanksgiving, but statistically the #2 and #3 days for cooking fires are Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.  Some cooking tips:

  • Avoid distractions and make sure someone is present at all times. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of these fires.
  • While cooking on a stove, keep a lid nearby to smother a small grease fire.
  • Turn all pot handles toward the stove to avoid anyone accidentally bumping them.
  • With an oven fire, keep the door closed and turn off the heat.
  • Maintain your smoke alarms in the home and have an accessible fire extinguisher.

Let’s all have a safe and happy holiday season!

For more information on the USFA campaign, visit https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/holiday.html
Christmas Fire Safety Sources:

http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/top-causes-of-fire/cooking/safety-messages-about-cooking

http://www.nfpa.org/news-and-research/fire-statistics-and-reports/fire-statistics/fire-causes/holiday/decorations

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/holiday.html

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