Common Causes for Holiday Fires

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With decorations hung, plans made and a race to finish last minute Christmas shopping, the holiday season is in full swing. The top of your holiday list this season is probably not fire safety, but it’s easy to stay safe and prevent holiday fires with some preventative measures.

Here are a few top holiday fire safety tips to help you and your family stay safe this holiday season.

Cooking

Holiday fires can also occur in the kitchen. Hosting family and friends during the holidays means a busy and active kitchen. The leading cause of cooking fires is distracted or unattended cooking. Try to keep the kitchen area uncrowded and uncluttered as much as possible.

Keep flammable items, such as oven mitts, kitchen towels & food storage bags away from heat sources. Even your clothing can become dangerous if you’re working around flames, so roll up your sleeves and use the back burners on the stove if possible.

Another kitchen safety tip is to never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance. It can cause a fire by overloading the circuit. Instead, plug cooking appliances directly into an outlet and cook only with equipment intended for cooking.

Decorations and Candles

Holiday fires can happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source, which can easily be avoided. Other decoration hazards include holiday lights, frayed wires or overloaded circuits. Always inspect lights before hanging and never leave lights on unattended.

Candles can be unsafe, especially around kids and pets. Fires can easily start if a candle gets knocked over or left unattended. Keep candles away from all flammable materials and in full view so you don’t forget about them. Also, make sure candles are in sturdy holders.

Fireplace

Before lighting a fire in your fireplace this season, you should first take these precautions. Make sure the damper or flue is open before starting the fire and that the chimney is unobstructed. Clear the area around the fireplace of anything that could be flammable and clean out ashes from any previous fire.

When choosing wood for your fireplace, use dry and well-aged wood in a variety of sizes and shapes. Dry wood burns more easily and will produce far less smoke.

Install safety screens to prevent risk of burns and keep a fire extinguisher in reach just in case. Talk to children about the dangers of fire and store all fireplace tools, matches, etc. out of reach of children.

If you have a gas fireplace, make sure the gas switch is blocked off.

Christmas Tree

Whether you have a real or artificial tree, both can pose fire risks. Real trees dry out easily and can quickly catch fire so you should water them every day. Artificial trees can catch fire if too close to a heat source, therefore keep heat sources at least 3 feet away from trees. Also, avoid blocking exits by placing trees away from doors.

Christmas lights are considered a heat source and can cause Christmas tree fires. You should always inspect all Christmas lights before placing on tree and don’t plug more than three strings into each other, a power strip should be used instead.

Shopping

During the holidays, shopping malls and retail stores can be crowded, and it may be so crowded that exits are blocked or out of clear view. Since we can’t control holiday fires that break out in busy shopping areas, we can stay fire aware.

Fire safety may be the last thing on your mind when out holiday shopping but take time to identify emergency exits. Know your way out of a store and shopping mall and if exits are blocked, say something. Staying aware when out shopping can be a simple yet lifesaving tool.

The Jones Companies in Jacksonville/Onslow County and surrounding areas wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

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