The holiday season is a time of joy and gathering together with family. Unfortunately, between cooking feasts, having indoor trees, and decorating with lights connected to electrical wires, the holiday season can also lead to an increased risk of home fires. Here are some important fire safety preparations you can make now, to ensure your home is protected from fires, holiday-related or otherwise.
1. Install, Check, and Upgrade Smoke Detectors
Most major home fire damage occurs in homes that either have no smoke detectors, broken smoke detectors, or a lack of proper smoke detector placement and coverage. Smoke detectors are your number one line of defense against fires, so having the right equipment and making sure it is functioning properly is crucially important.
Basic smoke detectors give good early notification of a problem, but they need to be tested frequently to make sure they are working properly. Many people don’t realize, though, that newer smoke detectors are capable of much more than the old, simple ones. New smoke detectors can also detect CO2, can connect to a full home security system, and can be linked to a monitoring service that can automatically notify the fire department, which is especially useful when you are away from your home.
2. Check Appliances for Recalls
According to Consumer Reports, using data they’ve collected from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 69,000 fires have been caused in the last five years as a direct result of appliances. More than 15 million individual appliances have been subject to manufacturer recalls in that time due to defects that could cause fires.
Figure out what appliances you have, what model number they are, and double check the government recall site, www.recalls.gov, in order to make sure your appliances aren’t on there. Consider signing up for their recall email lists in order to stay aware of new recalls as they are issued.
3. Cook Wisely
When preparing that delicious holiday feast, practice these basic kitchen and cooking safety tips in order to help minimize the risk of fire. First, when frying, grilling or broiling food, make sure you stay in the kitchen. If you have to leave the kitchen, turn the stove off until you can come back. Roll up your sleeves or wear tight fitting clothes to make sure there are no loose fabrics hanging down which could catch fire on hot surfaces or burners. Keep children away from cooking areas – 3-feet around the stove should be a “kid free zone.” And when it comes to barbecues, make sure they are placed at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, as well as clear of overhanging leaves and branches.
4. Check Wires
Frayed wires start fires. That’s good to remember (and not just because it rhymes). Check your appliance cords for frays or breaks in the wire, and never use damaged cords. Don’t run power cables under rugs or other flammable surfaces. Pay attention to the number of prongs your appliances have. Three-pronged appliances should never be forced into two-pronged outlets or extension cords. And speaking of extension cords, be careful not to overload them, or surge protectors, which should never be strung together.
5. Care for Fireplaces
Fireplaces can be a wonderful source of warmth and a place to gather around during the cold weather, but be careful not to neglect them. Chimneys and woodstove pipes need to be cleaned and checked regularly to make sure of no damage or obstructions. Trash, paper, and green wood should never be burned. Fireplace screens should be big and heavy enough to stop rolling logs and cover the entire fireplace opening so as to catch flying sparks. Finally, make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
Fire safety probably isn’t the first holiday tradition that you think of once the weather starts turning cold, but take a little time to follow these safety tips, and you’ll glad you made sure that you and your family are having a safe and wonderful holiday.