According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2007 to 2011, home structure fires killed an estimated average of 2,570 people and injured and estimated average of 13,210. Of these fires, an estimated average of 1,300 annually were caused by Christmas decorations including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, candles, electrical problems and decorations placed too close to heat sources.
So how can you keep your family safe from this threat?
Christmas Tree Safety
If you’re purchasing a real Christmas tree, the NFPA say to “choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.”
Make sure your tree is at least 3 feet away from a heating source and that it’s not blocking an exit. Water it daily and get rid of it when it dries out. “Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.”
Additionally, turn off any lights on your tree before leaving the house or going to bed.
Product Director Tyler Nemes of Twin-Star Home says, “Outlet overheating is always a concern with electrical products.” That’s why he invented the Safer Socket.
The Safer Socket is “a plug that you plug into your outlet and then plug your electrical products like heaters, holiday lights and displays into it. If the electrical appliance’s plug gets too hot, then the Safer Socket will shut the power off to the electrical product before a fire can start.”
The device requires no special wiring or professional installation.
Fireplace and Heating Safety
If you use wood-burning or gas heating sources, make sure your carbon monoxide alarms are working properly. “If you smell gas in your gas heater,” says the NFPA, “do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.”
If you’re looking for a healthier, safer alternative to traditional wood-burning or gas fireplaces, Nemes says Twin-Star also makes electric heating sources. The ClassicFlame electric fireplace and the Duraflame electric heater offer “real flame effects that can be used year round with or without heat. They are easy to install simply by plugging into any outlet and can easily be moved from room to room or house to house.”
The ClassicFlame fireplace emits no carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane or formaldehyde, which means zero emissions inside or out. The Duraflame heater adds supplemental heat to a room while staying cool to touch, “so it’s safe for little hands and puppy noses.”
Still, make sure to turn this equipment when you leave the house and before bed.
According to the NFPA, “more than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle.” So be sure to keep your flammable decorations, hair and loose clothing away from your candles and your candles away from home goods like drapes.
NFPA suggests using flameless candles as they look and smell like the real thing. But, if you do use real candles, make sure your candle holders are sturdy; place your candles on sturdy, uncluttered surfaces; and blow your candles out when you leave a room or go to bed. And, of course, keep your candles and matches away from your kids.
“The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking,” says the NFPA. Don’t use the stove if you’re sleepy or have consumed alcohol, leave the kitchen when you’re cooking, and don’t place any flammable items on your stovetop.
If a small grease fire does occur on the stovetop, “smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.”
For more tips on protecting your home and family from fire this Christmas, visit NFPA.org.