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Staying Warm and Safe this Season: Holiday Fire Safety Tips December 10th, 2015

The lights are hung, the tree is up, the candles are flickering. The holidays are meant to be merry and bright, yet, there are so many hidden fire dangers during this time of year. Fires are more common and more deadly now than during any other season. According to the American Red Cross, nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays, claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage. Don’t let your house become a fire statistic. Consider these ways to keep you family and home safe through the New Year.

Candle Safety:

Candle fires are 4x as likely to occur in December as any other month of the year. They set the tablescape, and their warm flickering glow puts you in the holiday spirit. But, when it comes to open flames, you can never be too careful. Never leave a candle unattended. Also, make sure your candles are on a steady base and have a protective glass covering around them (like a votive holder or a hurricane for larger candles). Place them a foot away from anything else so they don’t catch other decorations on fire. Make sure they are out of children’s reach. Kids are drawn to fire, so make sure your candles don’t become a fun “plaything” for the kids. And, after a holiday party or get together be sure to go through the whole house and make sure all candles are blown out.

Or, why not try an alternate to the traditional candle? The new LED candles come in all colors and shapes and flicker just like the real thing, without the worry.

Careful Cooking:

The top culprit of holiday fires is cooking, according to the US Fire Administration, which is most commonly caused by unattended stoves and ovens. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to get sidetracked with other things. The phone rings, there’s a delivery at the door, your neighbor stops by to tell you to check out their decorations – it’s easy to get distracted from your kitchen duties. One way to keep your cooking and kitchen activities top-of-mind is to bring a potholder with you when you leave the kitchen. This will serve as a reminder to get back quickly. Also, make sure your kitchen has a working fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires. And, if deep-frying is on your menu, be sure to follow these safety tips: Fry your turkey outside on a level surface at least 10 feet from the house. Do not leave the turkey unattended, or drink too much while watching the turkey. And, of course, be extra careful with children around.

Christmas Trees:

Who doesn’t love the smell of a fresh Christmas tree? A tree acts as a focal point for holiday décor in your house, and also brings an additional fire risk inside. To stay safe, make sure to buy a fresh tree with the needles intact. Also, before heading home, ask the store to make a new cut on the tree trunk so the tree can soak up water, and keep it fresh by watering it every day. It is difficult to ignite a well-watered tree. A dry tree is another story. According to the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Standards and Technology, it takes approximately 30 seconds for a dry tree to go up in flames. Place your tree with care. Keep it at least 3 feet from a radiator or fireplace and, of course, lit candles. Throw your fresh tree away after 4 weeks. Don’t leave it up when you go on vacation after the holidays. Alternatively, an artificial tree is a great option.

Decorative Lights:

The holiday season is synonymous with lights. Inside and outside of your home, lights are an essential part of most décor. Check your lights out before you hang them. Throw out any with frayed wires; this is not the time to be chintzy. Don’t run more than three strands of light together on the same plug. It is best to stack the plugs. Make sure your extension cord is in good condition too. Do not use nails or staples when hanging your lights outside. The damage they cause to the wiring can increase fire risk. Use UL-rated clips or hangers. And, as a precaution, lights should be replaced every few years. Make sure your lights outside don’t trip your breakers. If they do, that is a sign they need to be replaced. Take the lights down after the holidays. Leaving them up longer can leave them vulnerable to squirrel and weather damage and more susceptible to fire dangers in the future.

Fireplace Safety:

Make sure your chimney is clean before your start a fire. Soot can harden on the wall and become flammable. Make sure you have a working screen to prevent embers from popping out and landing on the floor or carpet. Burn wood and don’t throw bits or wrapping paper into the fire. Make sure your embers are cool for at least 24 hours before disposing of them.

Important Note: Kids Playing with Fire

The USFA reports that 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire, and in December that number doubles. Always keep matches and lighters out of their reach. Do not use decorative matches as part of your décor. To best keep your home and your kids safe, hide any lighters and matches for the fireplace out of harm’s way.

Prevention, Planning and Smoke Sensor Monitoring:

Now would be a good time of year to create a family fire safety plan. Do the kids know what to do in case of a fire, or where to meet outside? What else can you do to make sure your family is safe? Even if you take all of these precautions, accidents do happen.

To further protect your home and your family, Fortress offers photoelectric smoke sensors with a state-of-the-art optical sensing chamber and thermal heat sensing technology. We offer a hardwired solution compatible with a variety of control panels. We also offer a wireless detector option, one of our most popular solutions.

Your safety and security is our primary concern.

Interested in a free home security system quote? We’ll give you a call and answer all of your questions.

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