For better or for worse, celebrating the season brings its own laundry list of fire hazards, from scented candles and Christmas trees to electric lights and fireplaces. According to www.firesaftey.gov, fires during the holiday season injure 1,650 Americans, causing more than $990 million in damages.
Below, we (literally) spell out some prevention measures to make sure this holiday season is a safe and merry one for you and your family.
Space heaters. Place them at least three feet away from anything flammable. Make sure an adult is in the room when heaters are on. Turn them off when you leave the room or go to sleep. The same goes for burning candles.
Alarms. Install at least one smoke alarm on each floor level of the home, including basements. Test the alarms monthly, and be sure to change batteries at least once a year.
Fires. Never burn unconventional items such as wrapping paper or boxes in the fireplace, as this could cause a chimney fire. The same thinking applies to stoves and ovens—use these strictly for cooking, and not for heating.
Escape. Plan a home escape with two ways out of each room. Practice your exit plan with every member of the family to make sure it works. Invest in fire extinguishers, and know how to use them.
Trees. For artificial trees, only choose flame-retardant ones with a UL label. Cut trees should be watered daily to be kept fresh. Never use real candles on trees. Keep trees at a safe distance from fireplaces, other sources of heat, and doorways. Dispose of trees at an authorized recycling center.
Your lights. Inspect lights for wear and tear, such as frayed wires or gaps in insulation. Periodically check wires—they should not be warm to touch. Connect strings to an extension cord before plugging in.
For more information, visit firesafety.gov. Put safety at the top of your list, and check it twice.
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