With the onset of the holiday season, it is important to focus on fire safety and prevention. The celebration of
the season brings with it increased usage of electric lights, decorations, candles, and the ever popular Christmas
tree, all of which can be potential fire hazards. Additionally, cooking fires increase during the holidays as
families and friends gather to celebrate. By following general fire safety precautions, potential holiday fires,
deaths, and injuries remain preventable.
What's a traditional Christmas morning scene without a beautifully decorated tree? If your household includes a natural tree in its festivities,
take to heart the sales person's suggestion - "Keep the tree watered." Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically,
shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and
neglected tree can be.
SEE VIDEO BELOW.
Selecting a Tree for the Holidays
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly
cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the
tree has been cut too long and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily
ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it
up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to
dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
Thanksgiving Day fires in residential structures cause more property damage and claim more lives than residential structure fires on
other days. The increase is troubling as it applies mostly to cooking fires in family homes. In 2005, cooking fires were involved in roughly
1,300 reported home structure fires on Thanksgiving - that's almost three times the daily average.
Another of the recent culprits for the increase of cooking fires during holidays is the turkey fryer. Turkey fryers use a substantial quantity
of cooking oil at high temperatures, and many units currently available for use pose a significant tipping danger. The use of turkey fryers
by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries and the destruction of property.
/ Always use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized
/ Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you
leave the kitchen, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
/ Keep anything that can catch fire - potholders, towels or curtains - away
from your stovetop.
/ Have a "kid-free zone" of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas
where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
/ Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose
clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
/ Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in
the mitt is heated.
/ Always keep an oven mitt and lid nearby when you're cooking. If a small
grease fire starts in a pan, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by
carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don't remove the
lid until it is completely cool.
/ If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to
prevent flames from burning you and your clothing. Have the oven serviced
before you use it again.
The following safe cooking tips can help to make your
holiday dinner safe and enjoyable: