The holiday season is now firmly upon us. The holidays are traditionally a festive and eventful time of year. This is a time for celebration, which also means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 30% of home fire and 38% of home fire deaths occur during the months of December, January, and February. There are steps that can be taken to reduce the risks of death and injury from a home fire this holiday season. It’s critical that families keep fire safety in mind while enjoying this festive, exciting and extremely busy time of year.
Candles are widely used in homes throughout the holidays, and December is the peak month for home candle fires. The NFPA’s statistics show that candles start two of every five home decoration fires. Fire departments encourage local residents to consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles but have no open flames associated with them. Keep the following in mind when burning candles:
- Always keep a burning candle within sight. Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep. Ensure that the wick ember is no longer glowing.
- Never burn a candle near or on anything that can catch fire. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, etc.
- Keep burning candles out of the reach of children and pets.
- Trim wicks to ¼” each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning and dripping.
- Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. Ensure that the holder is heat resistant, sturdy, and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
- Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents, ceiling fans and air currents. This will help prevent rapid, uneven burning, and avoid flare-ups. Drafts can also blow nearby lightweight items into the flame where they could catch fire.
- Never use a candle as a nightlight.
Candles may be pretty to look at, but they are a cause of home fires and home fire deaths. It is important to always remember that a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.
The holiday season occurs during the coldest part of the year. As such, the chances of you using your fireplace as a source of heat during this time of year are high. Having your chimney system serviced annually is a good way to provide for the safety of everyone who visits your home during this joyous time of year. Identifying and correcting minor issues before they get the chance to become something major is the name of the game.
General Holiday Safety
As with any time of the year, it’s important to make sure your home is protected by an adequate number of smoke alarms. Alarms should be installed on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area; you should test smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. You should carefully inspect each electrical decoration and extension cord before using them each holiday season; if they are damaged, it’s best to discard them. According to the NFPA, between 2007 and 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 230 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 22 injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage annually.
There’s no place like home for the holidays and no better place to implement good fire safety practices. The holidays offer a perfect opportunity for enjoying time with loved ones, celebrating life, being grateful, and reflecting on what’s important. They don’t need to be a stressful time for you and your loved ones. We at Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County wish you and your family much joy and merriment this holiday season and encourage you to contact us if you need any assistance ensuring the fire safety in and around your home.