Columbia Fire Department Offers Fire Prevention Tips for a Safe and Festive Holiday Season.
For most of us, the holiday season represents a time for family festivities and good cheer. What few of us consider is that the holiday season is a time when there is an increased risk of home fires. Many households engage in holiday activities that serve as some of the leading causes of U.S. home fires, including cooking. Christmas trees, candle usage and holiday decorations also significantly contribute to the seasonal causes of home fires. Add to that the hectic nature of the holidays, when people are trying to accomplish multiple tasks at one time, and the chance for home fires grows even more.
“The holidays can quickly turn from joyful to tragic when a fire occurs,” says Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins. “By taking simple precautions, people can avoid potential fire hazards, and make this time of year a healthy and happy one.”
With unattended cooking as the leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire injuries, Chief Jenkins says to stay in the kitchen while you’re frying, grilling or broiling food. Most cooking fires involve the stovetop, so keep anything that can catch fire away from it, and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for a short period of time. If you’re simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking. The Columbia Fire Department also suggests creating a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food and drinks are prepared or carried.
According to NFPA, U.S. fire departments respond to 230 home structure fires caused by Christmas trees each year. One of every three of them is caused by electrical problems, and one in five resulted from a heat source that’s too close to the tree. The Columbia Fire Department offers the following advice for your tree:
•If you have an artificial tree, be sure it’s labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
•If you chose a fresh tree, make sure to water it daily.
•Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit, and is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles and heat vents or lights.
•Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory, and make sure you know whether they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.
•Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini-string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
•Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
•Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage.
Columbia Fire Department suggests recycling you Christmas tree with Keep the Midlands Beautiful’s Grinding of the Greens December 26, 2015 – January 9, 2016. For drop off locations and additional information visit their website http://www.keepthemidlandsbeautiful.org/Calendar/gog1215.asp.
Candles are widely used in homes throughout the holidays, and December is the peak month for home candle fires. The nonprofit National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) statistics show that two of every five home decoration fires are started by candles. The Columbia Fire Department encourages City of Columbia and Richland County residents to consider using flameless candles, which look like real candles.
By following these fire prevention tips and measures, you can greatly reduce the risk of fire in your home, and enjoy a safe holiday season.