How to prevent a house fire during the holidays

Author: D16 November 12, 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s time to put the Christmas tree up, hang the lights, get the decorations out, and start your holiday baking. All of these activities should be fun for the whole family, but if you don’t take the appropriate safety measures, it could end in disaster. House fires are no joke, and the causes of those fires increase significantly during the holiday season.

According to the American Red Cross, there are nearly 47,000 fires every year during the winter holidays that claim more than 500 lives, cause over 2,000 injuries, and cost over $550 million in property damage. One out of every 22 house fires caused by a Christmas tree have resulted in death. Of the 47,000 house fires, an average of 40 house fires are caused by children playing. The most important thing you can do for your home, your family, and yourself is installing smoke alarms in every level and every bedroom of your home, as well as your kitchen; doing so reduces your chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.

In addition to installing smoke alarms and checking the batteries often, follow these tips:

  • Keep your Christmas tree, candles, and other decorations away from fireplaces, portable heaters, vents, radiators, and candles by at least 3 feet.
  • If you purchase a real tree, check that it has fresh, green needles that are not easily broken. Keep real trees moist by giving them plenty of water. There are also flame retardant metallic or artificial trees available if you do not wish to have a real one.
  • Never leave tree and holiday lights on when you are sleeping or not home.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire away from your stove top. This includes pot holders, towels, oven mitts, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, wooden utensils, etc.
  • Connect no more than 3 strands of mini light sets and no more than 50 bulbs for screw-in light sets.
  • Get rid of your real Christmas tree after Christmas or when it is dry by disposing of the tree at an appropriate recycling center or scheduling a pickup in your community.
  • Leave 12 inches between candles and anything that burns.
  • Make sure your fireplace is inspected by a professional annually.
  • Do not burn your tree, wreaths, or wrapping paper in your fireplace or stove after Christmas.
  • If you use a space heater in your bedroom, never place it next to a bed because blankets could ignite. Also keep the space heater out of the way in case anyone gets up in the middle of the night so they don’t trip and fall over it or burn themselves.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on every level of your home where they can be easily accessible to everyone, especially in the kitchen near the stove and near your fireplace, if applicable; also make sure everyone in your home knows how to use a fire extinguisher.
  • According to the USFA, cooking is the top cause of holiday fires. Do not leave food unattended while you are cooking. If you need to leave the kitchen for any reason, take a pot holder or a kitchen utensil with you to remind you to return to your food in the kitchen.
  • Keep matches out of the reach of children. According the the USFA, 13% of fire deaths are a result of children playing with fire from January to March and in December, this number doubles.

The holidays are a time to be happily spent with your loved ones. The last thing you should have to deal with this during the holidays or any time is a house fire. If a house fire should happen, don’t hesitate to call Swartz Contracting & Emergency Services. Fire prevention is so much quicker and more efficient than dealing with the aftermath of a house fire. For more information about our fire and smoke damage restoration services, call 800-462-1024 or 419-331-1024.