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Security Basics

Holiday Fire Safety

Posted January 17, 2020 by Cove

Holiday fire safety infographic

Holiday Fire Hazards

Everyone looks forward to the holidays and the long-awaited break from normal life where we can celebrate with family and friends before bringing in the new year. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, which is typically filled with home decorating, shopping, gift-giving, celebrating, and cooking, few take a brief moment to stop and make sure their homes and families are safe during all this celebration.

No one expects a fire to break out in their home and nothing is more devastating than to have this unexpected tragedy take place during the holiday season. Nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays claiming 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage. Most of these highly preventable fires are caused because of decorations associated with the festivities.

The Red Cross has reported that in the instance of a home fire, you may have as little as two minutes to escape. So you can know how to prevent holiday fires this year, learn more about the common causes and follow simple fire safety tips around your home. There are many types of fires and there are several leading culprits, especially during the holiday season. To keep you and your family safe this holiday season, here are some major causes of holiday fires and how to prevent them.

couple sitting in-front of lit Christmas tree

Common Causes of Holiday Fires

Christmas Tree Fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. Fire Departments responded to about 160 home fires every year. Annually, three deaths and 15 injuries are caused because of Christmas Tree fires and $10 million dollars in property damage are reported as a result. Christmas tree-related fires cause 250 percent more deaths than regular house fires reported throughout the year. Electrical related fires with Christmas lighting is involved with almost half of three fires with 25 percent being caused by a candle.

If you prefer to have a live tree in the home rather than an artificial one, make sure that it is properly watered every day. Keeping the tree alive and flourishing while it is in your home will not only allow you to enjoy a fragrant and beautiful tree, but it will also keep it from becoming more flammable. Cleaning up dried out and fallen needles every few days is also a great safety tip to follow since dried pine needles are perfect kindling and can easily set a fire if they come in contact with a space heater.

Another way to ensure that your tree is lit safely without losing the dazzle and beauty you expect is to take care of the lights you use. By using quality lights and keeping them in good condition, you lower the risk of exposing your tree to fire risks. As well, follow power outlet safety by using surge protectors, limiting the number of lights plugged into each outlet, and checking string lights for broken bulbs or exposed wires will ensure proper electrical safety. These precautionary steps will help prevent fire hazards. Basic electrical safety is the most important and crucial step in preventing a Christmas Tree fire in your home this year.

cluster of white Christmas decorations

Holiday Decoration Fires

U.S. Fire departments respond to about 780 home fires every year that began with holiday decorations. These fires cause annually three deaths, 34 injuries, and about $12 million in property damage. Don’t suffer a home fire this holiday season because of your decorations.

Another great tip is to make sure that loose wrapping and tissue paper is cleaned up so it does not come in contact with a space heater, candle, or lighting outlet, all of which can kindle a flame. Gift-giving is a major part of the holidays and with the joy of tearing apart the wrappings of a gift to discover its contents, it can be easy to make a big mess. Keeping this as clean and organized during the holidays can help to prevent a piece of wrapping from causing a fire.

Most decorating is accompanied by Christmas lighting both inside and out of the home. Electrical fires are a higher concern over the holiday season because of the excess of lights. Check electrical cords for exposed wires or frayed ends. Do not overload your plugs which increases the danger associated with power surges. To prevent electrical spark backs or overloaded circuits use power strips for plugging in three or more lights.

roasted turkey on a grill

Holiday Cooking Fires

Although Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, Christmas and Christmas Eve follow at numbers two and three. About 20 percent of these fires involve holiday decorations which are too close to cooking equipment which results in a fire breaking out in the home.

Holiday decorations are highly flammable and keeping them to a minimum around stove-tops, ovens, and kitchen counters will help reduce the risk of a fire. Keeping decorations out of the kitchen will help prevent a hot-plate, stovetop, or cooking pot from coming into contact with a decoration and starting a fire.

Make sure that there are vents and good airflow in and around the kitchen while cooking. Steem and broiling food can cause the kitchen to quickly overheat and this can become harmful if flammable materials are too close to the heat sources.

If your home or living space doesn’t have a sprinkler system to help put out kitchen fires, placing a fire extinguisher under the sink or in the pantry is another good way to prepare for an accidental cooking fire. Grease or cooking fires can sometimes be more difficult to extinguish which is why it is always good to be prepared with the proper tools to extinguish dangerous flames. Check your fire extinguishers to ensure they have not passed their expiration date. If you do not have a fire extinguisher in your home or in your kitchen, go out and get one. It's always better to have something you don't need than to need and not have it.

row of red burning holiday candles

Candle Fires

An alarming 22 homes each day catch fire because of candles and that number increases during the holidays. Almost 60 percent of these candle fires started because furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations were too close to the candle. Candle fires peak in December and January with the top two days being Christmas and Christmas eve.

Candles bring a warm and inviting atmosphere to the home and there is a reason they are used with the festivities. To reduce the risk of candle fires, make sure that you never leave a candle burning alone in a room, that you properly extinguish all candles once you are done using them, and that you keep them out of reach of young children. Minimizing the risk of a child knocking over, playing with, or sticking paper into an open flame will not only minimize the risk of a fire breaking out in the home but will keep your kids and family safe from harm.

brick hearth with glowing fire

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

Fireplace safety

You can help prevent a fire in your home by keeping a watchful eye on all open flames. Whether you have a gas or wood-burning fireplace, it is always good to make sure that everyone knows how to remain safe while enjoying the warmth and glow of live flames. A loose log or hot coal from the fireplace can start a home fire and can get out of hand quickly.

Beware of space heaters. Winter nights can get cold and if you are like most people, space heaters are a great and cost-effective way to stay warm and heat a small portion of your home. But there is a danger. Blankets, curtains, and other flammable materials are at risk of igniting if they are too close to a space heater for too long.

Matches and lighters are another concern that should be taken seriously. Make sure to keep all lighters and matches out of reach of small children so there is no risk of an accidental fire. If you will also be using flammable liquids this year including lighter fluid, strong alcohol, or whatever, make sure they stay far away from anything that will burn, especially candles. Taking extra steps of precaution will help keep you and your family safe without limiting your enjoyment of the festivities.

twin iron fire-escapes

Escape plans

Among the things you can do to protect your home are creating escape plans with your family. If you have a well thought out and simple plan, you will all know what to do if a fire breaks out in your home. One of the leading factors in home deaths during a fire is the lack of a plan and no way of escape. This holiday season, when you are in a crowded home with friends and family, make sure that you take time out so everyone knows what to do in case one of the smoke alarms sound or a fire starts. Make sure that if you have a fire-escape or escape ladders, that you check them to ensure they are in good working condition.

It is always a good idea to practice your escape plan. For the same reason schools have fire drills to make sure that both children and adults know what to do to stay safe if a fire breaks out, it is always a good idea to practice a similar drill at home. Part of every good escape plan is establishing a clear meeting place. This will help make sure that everyone is out and will prevent worry that someone may be trapped inside. Having a plan, along with a place to go, will help keep you and your family calm so you will all be safe.

white wireless smoke alarm

Smoke Detectors

The Red Cross suggests that you check your smoke alarm batteries every month to ensure that they are working properly. It is also a good idea to have a smoke alarm in every room in the house. This way you are alerted as quickly as possible to any possible issue. Advanced security smoke detectors can save you precious time when they are connected to a security system that is monitored by a central station.

A great way to ensure that both of these smoke detector needs are met would be to get a Cove alarm system with smoke detectors. Not only will the system alert you regarding low battery, but it will also contact the fire department saving you and your family precious time if a fire does break out in the home. The Red Cross estimates that you only have two minutes to escape during an emergency. Any delay in alerting your family to escape the house and calling the fire department could have detrimental effects.

man reading in a chair by a window and Christmas tree

Stay Safe

Protect your home and family this holiday season and prevent a holiday fire in your home. A great way to ensure that someone else is watching out for you this winter would be to have a Cove Security System with built-in smoke detectors. This will make sure that you are alerted in the case of an emergency and that the authorities are alerted as well. Save lives and keep safe this holiday season and take a little extra care to make sure you and your family have a joyful time!

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