A Basic Guide to Holiday Fire Safety

It’s almost the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But all that merriment can easily turn into panic if the right precautions aren’t taken. I’m talking about fire safety.  I care about you and I want you to be safe at home and at work.  I’ll bet you can find similarities between the home fire safety tips below and those we have been discussing at work.

First and foremost, don’t take for granted some fire safety basics that are relevant year round. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month and batteries should be replaced at least once or twice a year. And fire alarm systems at work give early warning to save lives. Keep them working so have one less thing to worry about.  

Second, invest in a fire extinguisher if you don’t have one in your home. It’s an essential safety device that’s relatively inexpensive but worth every penny. Once you have one, make sure it’s installed near the kitchen, workshops and near other fire risks.  Each floor should have its own extinguisher. Read the directions and maintain extinguishers according to manufacturer recommendations. In a workplace setting, fire response equipment should be easily accessible and maintained.

In addition to the alarm and extinguisher, it’s important to have a well-thought out escape plan. How will you escape and by what means? And just like schools perform drills, you too should practice your evacuation plan at home and at work. Practice it during the day as well as at night so you have a good idea of the lay of the land.

Beyond the day-to-day fire prevention, the holidays can bring an added dimension to a household. Here’s a look at a few of the most common hazards we see this time of year and how you can mitigate risks:

Cooking Fires

No holiday celebration is complete without cooking or baking. Be sure to clean up greasy spills as you go to remove this fire hazard. If you’re deep frying a turkey, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your fryer. See the U.S. Fire Administration guidelines for Holiday Cooking Safety.  In general, flammable liquids must be controlled and handling anything hot should always be done with care.

Christmas Trees

If your family prefers the look and smell of real trees, be sure to water yours every day because dry needles and wood can be the perfect kindling. It’s OK to use many strings of light, but don’t plug more than three strings into each other. Opt for a circuit breaker protected power strip instead. While a fully decked out tree might look pretty, it can pose an unseen danger. Avoid overloading electrical systems, as this is a common cause of fire at home and at work. Discard light strings that are past their prime. And be sure to always unplug the lights before leaving the house or office or before going to sleep.

Fireplaces

It doesn’t get much more cozy than the light and heat of a fire from your hearth. Keep combustibles, and yourself, at least three feet away from the flames. Use a fire screen and make sure all embers are fully extinguished before turning in for the night. Keep vigilant in the minutes and hours after a fire, as there’s still potential for something to go wrong.

Fireworks

We usually associate fireworks with the summer, but many New Year celebrations also include fireworks. If you elect to engage in this activity, take care to choose a location away from buildings and trees. And make sure children and pets are out of the line of fire. Keep a supply of water or fire extinguisher at hand. I would suggest forgoing them altogether, because the potential for something to go wrong is not worth the moments of excitement.

By keeping this hazards in mind you can enjoy peace of mind while gathering with friends and family. On the contrary, if you’re forced to deal with a fire emergency at home or work, it won’t be “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Enjoy the Holidays in safety and peace,

Kenn

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