From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, many Americans spend their time enjoying favorite holiday traditions while making memories with family and friends. But, did you know the holiday season is one of the most dangerous times of the year for fires? According to the U.S. Fire Administration, about 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays. These fires can lead to millions upon millions of dollars in property damage, countless injuries, and even deaths. However, you can keep these sobering facts from turning your festive occasion into an unthinkable tragedy with these holiday fire safety tips.
Showcase Your Christmas Tree Safely
For many people, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a fresh, evergreen tree that’s trimmed in flickering lights, beautiful ornaments, and sparkly tinsel. But real trees can become a serious fire hazard if the tree dries out. Parched needles and wood are highly flammable. In fact, a dehydrated Christmas tree can easily and rapidly become engulfed in flames in less than a minute.
To keep your tree fresh and reduce the likelihood of it catching fire, follow these Christmas tree fire safety tips:
- When buying a live tree, choose a healthy tree with pliable, green needles that don’t break or fall off when touched.
- Before placing the tree in its stand, cut 2 inches from the base of the truck to help it draw up water.
- Water the tree every day, if needed. The water level should be above the base of the tree.
- Keep your tree at least 3 feet away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, radiators, heat vents, space heaters, or candles.
- Make sure your tree doesn’t block walkways or exits, in case a fire occurs.
- Unplug your Christmas tree lights before you leave home or go to bed. The lights could short out and cause a fire.
- Never use lit candles to decorate your tree.
- Get rid of a live tree after Christmas or when the needles dry up and fall off. Placed the disposed tree away from buildings to prevent an accidental fire from spreading to your home or business.
- If you opt for an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled “flame retardant” or “fire resistant.” While this doesn’t mean it won’t catch fire, it should resist burning and extinguish quickly.
Be Fire Smart While Decking the Halls
Festive decorations, twinkle lights, and fragrant candles can add to the ambiance of the holiday season. But they can also increase your risk of a fire. Pay attention to these tips as you decorate your home or business for the holidays:
- Only use indoor/outdoor lights that have been tested by a recognized safety testing laboratory.
- Inspect your old lights every year. Throw out strings that have frayed or exposed wires, broken sockets, or loose connections.
- When putting up lights outside, make sure they’re approved for outdoor use, so they’ll withstand winter weather conditions. Also, avoid using nails or staples to attach the lights. These can damage the wiring and increase your risk of fire.
- Don’t plug more than 3 strings of lights into each other. This can overload them and cause a fire. Use a power strip instead.
- Plug all outdoor lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Also, don’t overload your indoor or outdoor electrical outlets either.
- Turn off all lights while you’re away or asleep.
HOLIDAY DECORATIONS AND CANDLES
- Use only nonflammable or flame-resistant holiday decorations to trim your tree, home, or business.
- Keep all holiday decorations – especially live garlands and other greenery – at least 3 feet away from heat sources.
- Set candles in a sturdy base to keep them from being knocked over. Place lit candles out of reach from small children or pets.
- Reduce the risk of potential fires by keeping candles at least a foot away from anything flammable. Better yet, cover them with a hurricane globe.
- Never leave candles unattended. Make sure all candles are blown out before you leave for the night or go to bed.
- Instead of traditional candles, consider using electric or battery-operated flameless candles instead.
- Have your fireplace and chimney inspected annually to ensure it’s working properly before you use it.
- Use a fire screen to keep embers from escaping.
- Keep all flammable objects at least 3 feet away from the fireplace.
- Burn only seasoned wood.
- Never throw wrapping paper in your fireplace. The inks used in the paper can cause a flash fire since they ignite quickly and burn intensely.
- Ensure all embers are fully extinguished before you leave or go to bed.
- When cleaning out your fireplace, put the embers or ash in a metal container with a lid – not a plastic or paper bag or a container that’s not fire resistant. Cover the embers or ash with water. Place the container outside, away from your home or building. Let the ash cool for 24 hours before you dispose of it.
Consider Other Fire Safety Protection Needs
In addition to the above holiday fire safety tips, as a home or business owner, you have other fire safety considerations to remember as well.
In your home, you need to ensure your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are working properly. Each month, you should inspect your fire extinguishers to ensure they’re ready for use. You should inspect the seals, look for damage, and check that the pressure is within the correct range. Refill or replace fire extinguishers as needed. Annually, you should change the batteries in residential smoke detectors.
If you maintain a business, you also need to ensure your smoke detectors, fire alarm system, sprinkler system, and fire extinguishers are inspected and maintained regularly. Depending on the system, components may need to be inspected weekly, monthly, semiannually, and/or annually, depending upon National Fire Protection Association schedules. These systems must be inspected by a qualified contractor.
FormLink Systems offers easy-to-use Fire Inspection Software to help our customers complete timely inspections and maintenance on their fire protection systems (such as fire alarm systems, fire sprinkler systems, and/or fire extinguishers) to ensure the safety of their employees and property. Our web-based software helps simplify the process, replaces costly paper-based inspections, and provides real-time data with on-demand reports.
For more information about how FormLink Systems software can help your business stay protected from a potential fire throughout the year, contact us today at 844-367-6565.
FormLink Systems wishes you a fun and festive holiday season that’s safe from potential fire hazards!