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How to Avoid Holiday Fire Risks

Health and Safety

October 18, 2019

Nobody wants to have their holidays ruined by a fire in the home. With the increased use of lighting and candles and the possible presence of a drying tree in your home, the fire risks around the holidays are a little different than usual. The National Fire Protection Association, the leading information and knowledge resource on fire, electrical and related hazards, has some useful information that can keep you and your family safe during this holiday season.

Here’s a quick video from the NFPA:

1 in 3 Christmas Tree Fires Are Caused by Electrical Problems

Inspect holiday lights for any defects in the wiring and be sure to follow directions for how many light strands you can safely connect together. Remember both real trees and fake trees can catch fire, so use caution with your lighting and other electrically powered decorations.

1 in 4 Christmas Tree Fires Are Caused by a Heat Source Too Close to the Tree

Heat sources (fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents) should be at least three feet from your tree.

1 in 31 Christmas Tree Fires Result in Death

Christmas tree fires aren’t extremely common but when they happen, they are more likely to be very serious and more likely to cause a death compared to home fires in general. Make sure if you have a real tree, you water it regularly and dispose of it when it is dry.

2 in 5 Home Decoration Fires Are Caused by Candles

Candles should be at least one foot from anything that could burn. Evaluate the full radius of space around the candle – left, right, above, below – and make sure that nothing can become fuel for the candle’s flame or heat.  Candles should also be placed where they cannot easily be knocked down, and should always be extinguished before leaving a room. If you have pets, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) strongly recommends that you don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or knock over candles. When you do use candles, be sure to use appropriate candle holders and place the candles on a stable surface, and put the candle out before you leave the room.

Home candle fires peak in December so consider investing in electric candles. Sure, regular candles can be beautiful and relaxing, but if you want to minimize your risk of a home fire, electric candles look convincing and even smell like regular candles.

Fireplaces and Home Heating Systems are the Second Leading Cause of Home Fires

Sitting before the warmth of a fire with a loved one is a great way to get into the spirit of the holiday season, but according to the U.S. Fire Administration, U.S. home heating systems, which include wood stoves and fireplaces, are the second leading cause of home fires after cooking. Ready.Gov reports that a fire can break out in less than 30 seconds. With that in mind, proper fire and chimney safety is vitally important. Here’s some simple maintenance tips from the Chimney Safety Institute.

It’s for all of these reasons that  smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are a smart purchase, especially if they are monitored by a 24/7 monitoring center. The NFPA recommends testing your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month and if possible its best to interconnect your smoke alarms so that if one sounds they all sound. Here’s an example of how a Guardian smoke detector can help protect your family:

Without Guardian smoke detectors and quick action by your people, I could have been a fatality. Our Guardian smoke detectors were the only ones that went off. My husband made a fire in the fireplace. There was a little smoke when the fire was initially lit, but it cleared up and we weren’t concerned about it. After finishing my work, I started upstairs to take a nap when the Guardian smoke detectors went off. Guardian called, but I told them it was just a little puff of smoke. I turned the Guardian alarms off and they sounded again. I still thought it was a false alarm, but I went back down and checked the room with the fireplace. I found it thick with smoke all the way up to the top of the vaulted ceiling! Thank heavens your people and your smoke detectors were on the job. I have respiratory problems. If I had gone upstairs for a nap, and smoke had filled the house, I might never have awakened. After it was all over, I called Guardian to thank you all.”
Mrs. Joseph L
New Jersey.

Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment Cause 455 Fires Daily

The NFPA reports that U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 166,100 home fires per year involving cooking equipment with ranges or cook tops accounting for almost 3 of every 5 reported home fires. Ovens also accounted for 13%. With the hustle of hosting family, friends and visiting relatives, it can be easy to leave the holiday turkey unattended. To help protect you in the event of a kitchen fire, a heat detector paired with a smoke alarm can offer you another layer of protection to give you peace of mind this holiday season.

A few more tips:

  • Beware of fraying wires on electrical decorations
  • Be particularly careful with old/vintage electrical decorations that may not be as fire-safe as modern ones
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before the holiday
  • Consider investing in a monitored fire alarm system

For more information about how Guardian can help protect you and your family during the holidays call 1-800-PROTECT (1-800-776-8328), and if you need a gift for a loved one, check out all the security devices  Guardian has to offer.

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