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Fire Prevention during the Holidays

By Luke Armstrong

“Oh the weather outside is frightful. But the fire is so delightful.”

Christmas fire safety tips
Christmas fire safety tips

And indeed, nothing can beat the playful flames in the fireplace when it comes to the charm and joy of the holiday season in your cozy home! The glowing embers seem to open a magical portal into a world of festivity, happiness, and affection, especially during the winter holidays. The rainbow of bright twinkling lights all around the house and the Christmas tree adorned with sparkling candles have the power to chase way any trace of sadness or despair!

All but one – ominous smoky shadows linger in every home where careless people do not abide by safety rules. They would risk not only losing the enchantment of Christmas but also ruining their possessions or even their lives if a fire started due to an unattended heat source. House fires that could have been easily prevented are among the most common causes of holiday tragedies.

The jolly holiday preparations present an enormous number of fire hazards for your home. Beginning with hot ovens and stockings hanging over the fireplace, through presents wrapped in shiny flammable paper beneath the burning candles on the Christmas tree – do not overlook any of these potential dangers to avoid a fiery accident during the holidays and to preserve the lifted spirits.

Christmas lights
Christmas lights

 Stoves and Fireplaces

Careless cooking-related activities cause about 160,000 fires per year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. And quite a large portion of them happen during the holidays. Even if you are not planning to roast “chestnuts on an open fire”, you will certainly prepare plenty of delicious home-made specialties for your family and guests. So far, so good. Just make sure you observe these simple fire prevention tips:

  • Never leave your stove, grill or oven unattended – spare several minutes every now and then to check on the progress of your baking;
  • Do not leave flammable stuff near hot-plates or braziers – paper towels, rugs and the like are very prone to catching fire;
  • Clean the cooking surfaces well, before and after use;
  • Be sure to turn the electric appliance off when ready;
  • Remember that smoke detectors can save the day (and your house).

Little prudency will allow you to enjoy your holiday turkey and freshly-baked cookies instead of dialing an emergency number! Fire damage restoration is not among the cherished Christmas-related activities!

Christmas fire prevention tips
Christmas cooking

As dangerous as electric (or gas) appliances can be, nothing surpasses the peril of open fire.

  • Have your fireplace and chimney regularly inspected and cleaned by professionals to avert eventual fire or smoke damage. If necessary, take appropriate measures to improve their condition.
  • Do not put many logs in the hearth at once to avoid intensive fire and use protective screens if the flames grow higher.
  • Position your belongings as far away from the fire as possible – be careful how you hang the stockings and where you place the various decorations around the mantelpiece. Pay extra attention to the location of your Christmas tree – at least three feet away!
  • Burning the Christmas tree, wreaths and branches, or wrapping paper for that matter, in the fireplace when the holidays are over is also dangerous because the flames may spread quickly.

Let the yule log smolder safely during the holy night and bring warmth, peace, and love to your heart!

Christmas tree
Christmas tree

Christmas Tree And Decorations

This symbol of the Christmas holiday needs care and proper treatment.

  • You should secure your tree perfectly in its stand to prevent it from tipping over. Playful children and pets, or even careless adults might accidentally knock it down as well, if it is not safely secured. The upright tree with a shining star on the top should tower above the festive area, not fall down to cause dismay or an accident;
  • As already mentioned, put it really far from any heat source in the house, definitely nowhere in the proximity of the fireplace. A tree on fire may be quite a spectacular sight, but you will be happy to never see it;
  • If your Christmas tree is alive, water it regularly – it will stay fresh and the needles will not fall so quickly. Besides, it will not dry up too much and thus will not catch fire so easily. If you prefer an artificial tree, be careful to purchase one that is marked as “fire retardant”;
  • Remember that using real candles on the tree is a risk not worth taking. Despite their unquestionable charm, the danger is enormous because the natural resin and oils on the tree are extremely flammable and very hard to extinguish;
  • Replace light strings even if they are only slightly damaged or missing just a few bulbs. Also, do not connect too many strings on a single extension cord. Short circuits happen more frequently than the occasional spreading of open fire flames;
  • Be careful how you place paper decorations and paper-wrapped presents on and around the tree. There is little chance of an accident but extra cautiousness is never superfluous;
  • Make sure to unplug all lights on the tree when going out or going to bed. No need to worry – Santa will find his way even without the sparkling lights!

Holiday Lighting, Candles

Colorful lights and romantically burning candles may have the power to transform your home in an enchanted fairy-tale dwelling but they also have the power to cause severe fire damage.

Christmas candles
Christmas candles

Christmas illumination creates an atmosphere of wonder

However, lighting, both indoors and outdoors, should be promptly unplugged whenever you are away or asleep. Electrical cords and wires have to be in a flawless condition, otherwise – replace them before use. Children or pets should not be allowed, of course, to play with, chew on, or even touch the strands. Better safe than sorry.

Christmas lights
Christmas lights

Candles are meant to bring magic, not disaster

So avoid placing them on windowsills and mantles – the sparkles can be easily spread to a combustible material. Place them in holders designed for candles, not directly on the furniture. Tipped candles are a common cause of house fires. Don’t forget to blow out the flames before leaving the room – you can keep the light in your heart.

Christmas candles
Decorated mantelpiece

Bonus Tips

Tip 1: Mount smoke detectors around the house. Test them regularly and replace the batteries, if needed.

Tip 2: Do not install fire alarms near windows, ducts, and doors. They will not work properly because of the air flow. Also, make sure to have your ceiling detectors away from the walls and your wall detectors well below the ceiling.

Tip 3: Keep a fire extinguisher in working condition in the kitchen or near the fireplace.

Tip 4: Allow enough space around heaters and inspect them annually.

Tip 5: Be careful as to where the melting candle wax is dripping.

Tip 6: Learn in advance how to cope with a small home fire.

Tip 7: Prepare a fire-escape plan for your family. Point out possible emergency exits to your kids and designate a meeting place outside. This could come in handy if anything bad happened, not necessarily a fire.

Tip 8: Make a list of emergency contacts and call your insurance company the first thing after the fire has been extinguished. Then research your options and hire professional fire damage restoration services to put your life back on track as soon as possible.

Fire extinguisher
Fire extinguisher

Do your best to avoid resorting to the last tip! Ignite your hopes and love during the Christmas holidays, not your house! If you plan carefully, you will be able to prevent both fire damage and emotional damage. Holiday decorations, presents, and cheer should go hand in hand with an alert mind.

May only happy memories remain of beautiful sparklers and gentle Christmas songs!