Statistics have shown that fire incidents rise during the holiday season, and almost four out of every ten holiday fires are caused by Christmas tree problems. Don’t fear the tree though – just be sure to use common sense and safe thinking and planning when putting up your tree. Select a fresh, green Christmas tree and cut at least an inch off the trunk base before putting it in a sturdy stand. Keep the tree water fresh and full to prevent your tree drying out. Place your tree far away from any heat source such as radiators, space heaters and open flames like fireplaces and candles. If your tree is artificial, be sure it is flame-resistant and if it has lights, check to see if they are UL (Underwriters Laboratories Ratings) approved.
Lighting and decorations:
Holiday lights are a popular choice for many homeowners. Use lights that are UL approved and make sure you are using outdoor lights for any outdoor decorations you do. Check your lights! Don’t use lights that have broken or cracked bulbs, frayed wires, or wires that look dried out or old. Vintage lights and decorations are cute but spend a little extra money for some peace of mind and have any wires and bulbs replaced or rewired for safety. When hanging lights (indoors or out) use removable hooks or hangers – not tacks, nails, or staples to prevent wire punctures. Set your lights on a timer so you don’t have to remember to turn them off when you leave the house or go to bed.
Fireplaces are a fun and cozy way to celebrate the holiday season, especially when you are surrounded by loved ones. Just be sure to use a fireplace guard to protect your home from sparks. Don’t leave fireplaces unattended and if you decorate around your fireplace, make sure those decorations are far enough away from the flames. If you plan on using your fireplace at all during the winter season, make sure you prepare your fireplace to prevent chimney fires and other safety hazards.
Candles are perfect for holiday dinners, gatherings and to ring in the New Year. Keep you and your home safe by following common candle safety. Make sure candles are put in a stable candle holder and placed where they can’t be knocked over or tipped. Keep them away from decorations and other flammable items and never leave a candle unattended.
Unfortunately, crime and holidays can go hand-in-hand. Keep your doors locked when you leave (and even when you are home). Don’t hide your spare key in plain sight, like under the mat or in a fake rock. If you need to keep a spare key near your home, use a lockbox that can only be accessed by a passcode. If you travel during the holidays, have a neighbor watch your home and have your mail or packages put on hold or delivered to your neighbors. Things like daily papers piling up or an overstuffed mailbox are dead giveaways to those looking for empty homes. Put your inside lights on a timer so it appears as if someone is home at night. Be smart when you are shopping during the holidays – protect your debit pin number while at the checkout counter. If you are out shopping for the holidays, store packages in your trunk or cover up with a blanket to keep items away from prying eyes.
Cooking is the number one fire hazard for homes, especially during the holidays according to the National Fire Protection Association. When cooking for a big family gathering or just everyday meals, stay in the kitchen while things are cooking so you can always keep an eye on the stove or oven. Keep flammable items like potholders and dish towels away from heating elements. Check your smoke detectors and replace any old batteries.
Keeping your family and home protected is something we all hope for during the holiday season. Home health and safety is something we care about and hope you do too. From all of us at NWWVT, wishing you and your family happy holidays, and stay safe!
Author, Bailey Aines, part-time NWWVT employee