Be mindful of fire and burn hazards during holiday season

The time between Thanksgiving and the New Year can be a wonderful time as friends and family come together to celebrate, but according to the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, IFSA, it is also a period in which fire and burn hazards become more prevalent. 

In fact, the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA, reports that Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires,  followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve, while candle and decoration fires peak in December.

“We get so caught up in the excitement of the holiday environment that we often forget about the fire and burn hazards around us,” says IFSA executive director Philip Zaleski, in a news release. 

“We need to keep a watchful eye on potential hazards presented by cooking, candles and holiday lighting and decorations. These types of fires, which spike during the holiday season, result in an alarming amount of injuries and deaths every year and cause billions of dollars in property damage to homes.”

The Illinois Fire Safety Alliance offers the following tips to ensure that all Illinois residents may enjoy a happy and fire-safe holiday season:

Cooking Safety

Cooking has long been the leading cause of home structure fires and injuries; it is also tied with heating equipment for the second leading cause of home fire deaths. 

In 2014, Thanksgiving had more than four times the average daily number of reported home structure fires caused by cooking. 

Do not cook when tired or leave cooking unattended. Unattended cooking is the leading cause in cooking fires.

Unplug appliances in case of a fire.

Do not use water to put out grease fires.

Prevent scald burns to children by turning pot handles inward on the stovetop; create a three-foot, child-free zone around the stove.

Push the test buttons on your smoke alarms to make sure they are properly working.

Do not use turkey fryers indoors; consider purchasing a turkey cooking appliance that does not use oil, as oil splashes and spills cause serious burn injuries.

Candle, Decoration and Lighting Safety

One-fifth of home decoration fires occur in December and nearly half of those occur because decorations are placed too close to a heat source. 

In December, 51 percent of decoration fires are caused by candles compared to 35 percent during the other 11 months of the year.

Never leave candles unattended.

Place candles on flat, heat-resistant surfaces at least one foot away from anything that can burn.

Battery-operated flameless candles are better alternatives to traditional candles.

Keep decorations clear from heat sources and be sure they are flame resistant or flame retardant.

Christmas tree fires are not quite as common, but are often very serious when they do occur. 

On average, one of every 31 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home fires. 

Electrical problems accounted for 30 percent of home Christmas tree fires. 

In one-quarter of Christmas tree fires and two-thirds of the deaths, a heat source, such as a candle or heating equipment, was too close to the tree.

Choose live trees that are fresh and green with needles that are difficult to remove.

Keep live trees well watered and away from heat sources that can dry them out.

Live trees should be disposed of shortly after Christmas.

Tree lights should be turned off overnight and when residents leave home.

Electrical failures or malfunctions are the biggest factors in fires involving holiday or decorative lights.

Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so cords are not damaged. 

Check if lights are intended for indoor are outdoor use and use appropriately.

Outdoor lights should be plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected outlet.

When choosing lighting and electrical components, be sure they are UL listed to limit risks. 

Do not overload electrical outlets/extension cords; electrical components can overheat and ignite.

Replace or repair damaged cords.

Avoid placing extension cords across doorways or under carpets.

Call a qualified electrician if outlets or switches are warm and if there are frequently blown fuses or tripping circuits.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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