The holidays are a time when many families deck the halls with lights and special decorations. But the winter holiday season also brings an increased risk of home fires and other injuries. Safe Kids Kansas and the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) remind families to take a few extra precautions and make safety a tradition when decorating for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other winter festivities.
December is the peak month for home fires, and holiday decorations contribute to this risk. Candles, live Christmas trees, lights, fireplaces and cooking should all be handled carefully. In addition, heat sources, like space heaters, can also ignite a fire.
“Prevention is the most effective way to avoid a home fire,” Doug Jorgensen, State Fire Marshal, said. “The winter months and the holiday season create many unintended fire hazards that can have devastating consequences. We want to ensure that Kansans stay safe this season by providing some easy tips to follow.”
Keep your family safe with these tips:
- Consider using flameless candles, which look like real candles but will keep children safe from burns.
- When cooking, keep your counter space free from anything that can catch fire, set a timer and check your cooking and baking regularly, and create a “kid-free zone” at least three feet around the stove.
- Inspect Christmas lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets.
- Make sure a natural/live tree is fresh and kept watered and keep tree at least three feet away from fireplace, space heater, radiator or heat vent.
- Supervise children around fireplaces or use a fireplace screen or gate to keep children away.
- Position space heaters with care. Place them level on the floor at least three feet from anything flammable, and never leave them on unattended.
- Have furnaces inspected annually.
- Install and regularly test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home and in every sleeping area. Create and practice your home fire escape plan and determine a safe meeting place outside.
“Despite efforts to prevent fires and burns, if you have an emergency it’s important for first responders to quickly find your location,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas. “Make sure your house numbers are clearly visible from the street, on your house, mailbox or curb.”
For more holiday and winter home fire safety tips, visit: www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Seasonal-fire-causes/Winter-holidays.