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Holiday Safety Tips on Preventing Fire and Electrical Hazards

Winter holiday fires by the numbers

It’s the holidays, folks, that most wonderful time of the year when 32 million families across the United States resurrect ornaments, twinkle lights and motorized Santa’s from garages and basements, and get ready to tackle that favorite December pastime: decorating.

While holiday decorating is all about adding fun, sparkle and warmth to a very special Season, it’s important to remember that many of our favorite decorations carry the risk of fire or electrical injury if not used carefully. Don’t let a preventable accident take the enjoyment out of your holidays – whether you’re excitedly preparing for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, take a few minutes to read our decorating safety tips.

From everyone at Cardinal Clean Merry Christmas!

Christmas trees

  • Between 2012-2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 170 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 4 deaths, 15 injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage annually.
  • On average, one of every 45 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 139 total reported home fires.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 43% of home Christmas tree fires.
  • In one-quarter (27%) of the Christmas tree fires and in 80% of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.
  • More than one-fifth (22%) of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
  • Forty-two percent of reported home Christmas tree fires occurred in December and 33% were reported in January.
  • Two of every five (40%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.
  • Fresh trees are less likely to catch fire, so look for a tree with vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck and don’t break easily from its branches. The tree shouldn’t be shedding its needles readily.
  • Always place your tree away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights, and keep the tree base filled with water to avoid a dry out.
  • Make sure all your indoor and outdoor Christmas lights have been tested and throw out any damaged lights.
  • Any lights you use outdoors must be labeled suitable for exterior placement, and be sure to plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle.
  • Keep all your holiday candles away from your Christmas tree, surrounding furniture and décor.
  • Bedtime means lights off! ­ Don’t forget to turn your Christmas tree lights off each night.

Candles

  • On average, 23 home candle fires were reported each day between 2012-2016.
  • More than half (56%) of the December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to one-third (31%) in January to November.
  • The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve.
  • Keep all your holiday candles away from your Christmas tree, surrounding furniture and décor.

You should see

A Calm, Steady Flame

No Flickering or Wisps of Smoke

No Flare Ups or Leaping Flames

Holiday cooking

  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
  • Cooking equipment was involved in 20% of home decoration fires. This can happen when a decoration is left on or too close to a stove or other cooking equipment.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.

Fireworks

  • Ten percent of fireworks fires occur during the period from December 30 through January 3, with the peak on New Year’s Day.
  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities.  Never give fireworks to children.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
Holiday Safety Tips on Preventing Fire and Electrical Hazards
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