Miller: Holiday fire safety, prevention tips |

Miller: Holiday fire safety, prevention tips

Katlin Miller
Middle Park Conservation District/Grand County Wildfire Council

The holidays are upon us. This joyous time of year lends itself to relaxing times with family and friends in warm, cozy homes decorated with pine boughs and candles. But if precautions are not taken seriously, the cheerful sounds of holiday music and laughter may burst into flames before your eyes.

According to the National Fire Protection Association,

• U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $16.2 million in direct property damage annually.

• On average, one of every 34 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.

• Electrical distribution and lighting equipment is involved in 35 percent of Christmas tree fires.

• Candles start 38 percent of home decoration fires.

• Cooking equipment is involved in almost one-fifth of all home decoration fires.

However, you DO NOT have to be a victim of a holiday fire. Follow these tips to keep you, your family and your home safe during this jolly season.

• Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.

• Keep candles at least 12 inches away from flammable things. Use battery-operated candles when possible.

• Replace strings of lights that are damaged, frayed, or have loose bulb connections.

• Keep decorations away from windows and doors.

• Use clips, NOT nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.

• Blow out all candles and turn off all lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the room.

• Water your Christmas tree daily.

• Make sure your Christmas tree is at least three feet away from any heat source (including lights).

• Get rid of your tree after Christmas or when it dries out. Dried-out Christmas trees should not be left in the home or garage or placed outside leaning against the home.

Home Heating Safety Reminders

Winter is officially here, and the outdoor temperatures prove it. It is so nice to entertain with a fire in the fireplace or just enjoy curling up with a good book. However, you must remember that the warmth of your home can come with flaming consequences if you are not careful and attentive. The National Fire Protection Association reports that:

• Half of all home heating fires occur in the months of December, January, and February

• Heating equipment is involved in one in six home fires and one in five home fire deaths.

Things you can do to protect your home and family from a home heating fire include:

• Keep combustibles at least three feet away from heating equipment (furnace, fireplace, wood stove or space heater).

• Keep children away from open flames and space heaters.

• DO NOT heat your home using your oven.

• Have a chimney inspection performed annually by a qualified professional.

• Clean fireplaces whenever 1/8” of sooty buildup is evident inside the chimney and flue system or whenever a glaze is apparent in the flue.

• Do not leave hot ashes in a bucket on the deck. Place them in a metal bucket at least 10 feet away from the home, preferably in the snow.

• Turn off space heaters when you leave the room or go to bed.

• Make sure you are using the proper fuel in fuel burning space heaters.

• If not already present, install a screen on open fireplaces to prevent sparks from flying out.

• Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors once a month.

• Keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and far away from the home.

• Plug only one heat-producing appliance into an electrical outlet at a time.

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