Holiday fires happen, but it’s hard to imagine a worse time of year to lose the roof over your head, to say nothing of potential injury or loss of life. That’s why fire professionals all across the US are sounding the alarm about holiday home fire safety. FrontPoint heartily agrees with this excellent advice, some of which comes from the experts at the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association).
“December is an exciting time where almost every home on the block is accented with decorations and seasonal lighting,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for the National Fire Protection Association. “Though decorations such as candles or Christmas trees certainly spread holiday cheer, it is important to follow basic safety steps so celebrations go off without a hitch.”
Sobering – and Scary – Statistics from the NFPA
- Thirty percent of all home fires and 38 percent of home fire deaths occur during December, January and February.
- Christmas tree and holiday decoration fires result in twice the number of injuries and five times more fatalities per fire than the average winter holiday fire.
- On average, 260 home fires begin with Christmas trees each year, resulting in 12 deaths, 24 injuries and $16.4 million in property damage.
- Candles start 45 percent of home decoration fires.
- Nearly 6,000 people a year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for falls associated with holiday decorations. More than half of these injuries involve falls from ladders or roofs while decorating outdoors.
A Local Fire Department Chimes In
Capt. Mike Burdette, fire marshal for the Pell City (Alabama) Fire Department, said whether you have a live Christmas tree or an artificial one, there are safety precautions homeowners should take. “Make sure the tree, real or artificial, is not near any heat sources,” he said. “This is especially important with live trees because once the moisture goes out of the tree it becomes extremely flammable.” Burdette said a dried out Christmas tree is similar to cured wood and burns easily. “You want to make sure the tree is watered regularly, and also that it is secured properly,” he said.
Don’t Forget the Fireplace
Burdette also said if you use your fireplace, be there to attend to it. “Don’t start a fire and leave the house unattended,” he said. “And use the same precautions with candles. Blow them out when you leave the room.” Burdette said children and pets, as well as flammable items, should be kept at least 3 feet away from fireplaces and candles.
Great Overall Recommendation
“It’s a good time of year to remember to check your smoke detectors and change the batteries,” Burdette also said. “Remember to review your fire safety plan with your family and go over things such as where the safe place to meet outside the house is.”
Southern California Edison’s Holiday Lighting Safety Tips:
- Put lights on a timer, and unplug them when you leave the house. This also helps save energy and money.
- Beware of counterfeit or poor quality electrical products. Use only lighting and cords approved by the Underwriters Laboratories — UL — an independent, nonprofit organization that tests electrical components and equipment for potential hazards.
- LED holiday lights are a fraction of the cost to run, and they don’t get as hot as incandescent holiday lights, reducing the chance of a fire. You can learn about free holiday light exchanges at http://www.sce.com/holidaylighting.
- Only use electrical cords and light strands that are in good condition; don’t overload outlets; and use only three strands per outlet or a surge protector.
- When hanging lights make sure staples, tacks and nails do not pierce or pinch wires. Loop a plastic zip cord around the lighting strand and secure the zip cord to the wall.
And of course, there’s no better life safety device than an alarm system that’s monitored for fire as well as intrusion. You can even add carbon monoxide monitoring – and the best alarm companies do not charge extra fees for these additional services.
If you’re already a FrontPoint customer, you know that FrontPoint includes fire and environmental monitoring in our affordable monthly rates – and our UL-listed wireless smoke and heat sensor costs only $64.99, one of the best values in home security. We suggest placing one sensor on each floor for the best protection. Remember, with FrontPoint you can add any sensors at any time, so it’s never too late. That’s one more reason why we’re the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US– we put your peace of mind first. Make sure your alarm system includes fire monitoring: it could save your home – or your life.