Holiday Fire Safety Tips

What feels more like the holidays than a friendly, cozy fire in the fireplace, the soft glow from candles lining a festive dining room table, and twinkle lights blazing in pure Clark Griswold-style all over the front porch?

This holiday season, protect your family and your family’s traditions with some fire safety tips. However, you can still enjoy the ambiance of the holidays without the worry of a dangerous fire starting.

Decorations to celebrate your holiday

Decorations to celebrate your holiday

Christmas Tree: During holiday celebrations, people used to put lit candle wax on the tree branches of their live Christmas trees! We’ve come a long way from that fire hazard, but risks remain today with live Christmas trees. Ensure you water your live tree daily to prevent drying out. If you use an artificial tree, make sure it is fire-resistant.

Did you know that nearly 30% of the fires in U.S. homes due to Christmas trees happen in January? That beautiful spruce in your living room continues to get drier and more flammable days after Christmas. Be mindful of safely disposing of your local community’s tree disposal policies, and don’t hang on too long to yours.

You can use as many light strings as you want; just be sure only to plug a maximum of three strands together. Inspect all lines of lights, looking for frayed wires or broken sockets. Dispose of any with excessive insulation wear or gaps in the wires.

Menorah or Kinara: There are electric menorahs and kinaras, but if your family tradition is to use natural candles, keep them away from flammable items, such as curtains and other holiday decorations. Place your menorah or kinara on a non-flammable surface and extinguish the flame before leaving your home.

The best way to prevent a fire when you are cooking your holiday feast is to follow these precautions:

Cooking and baking the safe way
  • Don’t walk away from your cooking
  • Keep flammable objects, like paper towels, dish towels, or food packaging away from heat sources.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher within easy reach.
  • If a fire starts in a pan, suffocate it by sliding a lid over it.
  • DO NOT use water to put out a grease or oil fire.
  • Call 911 if a fire in your oven does not go out

For more tips about cooking safety, check out this National Fire Prevention Association video.

Cozy around the fireplace

Cozy around the fireplace

Before winter sets in and you need to use your fireplace, have the chimney inspected. Burn dry firewood, so no additional dangers from moisture sizzling or excess smoke are caused by burning damp wood. Keep wrapping paper and other flammable decorations at least three feet away from flames. You can keep embers from escaping from your fireplace by using a firescreen and extinguishing all fires before bed.

All the lovely candles

Over one-third of the home decoration fires during the holidays are started by Christmas candles. However, practicing fire safety when using candles can protect your family and your home from a dangerous house fire. You can also choose to use battery-powered candles, which produce just as beautiful of a holiday glow, but without the dangers of real flames.

Always keep candles out of the reach of children and pets and extinguish the flame before you go to bed or leave the house. You’ll also want to keep lighters and matches away from children’s reach. Don’t place candles near Christmas trees or other holiday plants; be sure to trim the candle wick to the recommended length to prevent dangerous flames. Knowing this information can help you safely decorate your home and provide a warm and inviting space for entertaining your guests.

Smoke Alarms and Escape Plans

Make sure you routinely inspect your smoke alarms; if you have any that are not working, replace them. Have them installed on every level of your home, near or inside bedrooms, and in the kitchen. You should change the batteries in your smoke detectors every six months to ensure they are working correctly.

If a smoke alarm goes off, be sure your family is prepared and knows what to do. Identify two exits in your home and make a designated spot outside where everyone goes in case of a fire. Make a habit of practicing this escape plan, especially with younger children, where you can make a game out of it so all the family members know what to do.

If you and your family follow these simple safety tips, you can help ensure that you are all prepared to enjoy a fire-safe holiday season surrounded by those you love.