Amid all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, families should keep in mind that home fire dangers increase during the winter months and especially during the holidays when families string lights, burn scented candles and light that long-unused fireplace.
The National Fire Sprinkler Association, an advocacy organization, reminds families to take time during the winter months to review the dangers of fire with their loved ones. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates an average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries and almost $2 billion in property damage each winter.
“With the increased use of fireplaces and home heating systems during the winter months, families need to take the proper precautions to prevent potentially dangerous fire situations,” said Russell Fleming, president of the NFSA. “Holiday decorations can pose fire threats if not properly displayed, which can contribute to the increased risk of fire in winter. By taking the proper precautions and being aware of fire hazards in your home, families can help to decrease winter fire fatalities and property loss and keep their homes and families safe.”
The NFSA offers the following tips:
- Water Your Christmas Tree- If your family has a Christmas tree with lights, make sure that the needles are not overly dry, which can lead to the tree catching fire. Likewise, unplug the lights when your family is asleep.
- Watch Your Space Heaters- Limit your use of space heaters and never leave them unattended. Space heaters are very dangerous if not used properly, and need to be at least 3 feet away from anything combustible.
- Check Your Smoke Detectors- To ensure they are working properly and have full battery power, it’s recommended that you check the batteries in your smoke alarms when it’s time to turn the clocks forward or backward.
- Have Emergency Numbers Handy- Keep an up-to-date list of emergency fire, police and medical phone numbers near your phone. Show every member of your family where this information is kept and teach all children how to call for help in case of an emergency.
- Have an Escape Plan-Develop an escape plan with your family from multiple rooms within your home, both upstairs and downstairs. Take time to review the escape plan with your family, including a practice fire drill. Make sure the windows of children’s rooms are well marked to indicate them to firefighters.