For many the holiday season is about spending time with family, reflecting on the year past or setting goals for the future. Every year thousands of people are injured due to fire, and there are hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage due to fires. According to NFPA statistics, most holiday related fires in the home break out after Christmas Day and one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires. This is why we put together tips to making your holidays bright while preventing fire in your home.
We’d like to help you keep your family safe this holiday season.
What are your favorite holiday traditions? What kinds of tips would you add to help everyone keep safe?
Facts about Holiday Fires
- 32% of home Christmas Tree fires affecting home (structures) were due to electrical failures or malfunctions
- One in six (17%) occurred because some type of heat source was too close to the tree.
- Decorative lights on line voltage were involved in 12%
- 7% percent of home Christmas tree fires were started by candles.
Source: November 2013 report: NFPA’s “Home Christmas Tree and Holiday Light Fires”
The lights on the Christmas tree.
Many people think that because they have an artificial tree, that their risks for fire are lessened. This is false. Whether you have a natural or artificial tree, there are still very serious fire risks.
- If you buy an artificial tree, make sure that it is fire resistant – not all trees are.
- Natural trees require regular watering, your tree should never feel dry to the touch, this then becomes a major fire hazard. Whether or not you have those LED lights, a dry tree can go up in flames quickly. Do not take the risks.
A demonstration showing how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to a tree watered regularly.
Candlelight makes for beautiful ambiance during the holidays and is part of many holiday traditions.
Use caution when using candles, and always keep them in sight.
- Trim the wick to ¼ inch each time before burning a candle. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring.
- Avoid drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, sooting, and excessive dripping.
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains (1/2 inch if in a container).
- Extinguish a candle if it smokes, flickers repeatedly, or the flame becomes too high. The candle isn’t burning properly and the flame isn’t controlled. Let the candle cool, trim the wick, then check for drafts before re-lighting.
- Place burning candles at least three inches apart from one another. This is to make sure they don’t melt one another, or create their own drafts that will cause the candles to burn improperly.
- Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
- According to the National Candle Association, nearly 10,000 residential fires are caused each year by the careless or inappropriate use of candles. Click here for a complete list of candle safety rules or download a PDF.
Don’t forget about: Electrical Fire Hazards
Another stat from the 2013 Home Christmas Tree and Holiday Light Fires report shows the very strong risk of electrical fire due to overload or misuse of power cords and overcharged outlets: Electrical problems were factors in nearly two thirds (64%) of holiday related fires.
We found some great tips here. If you take the necessary precautions and inform yourself about these risks, you can assure a safe and happy holiday season.
Please be smart and keep safe this holiday season
Here’s a final list of Prevention Tips: Fire safety tips for the home, from the Insurance Bureau of Canada:
- Check and maintain your smoke detectors. Replace batteries at least once a year around Daylight Savings Time.
- Establish a fire evacuation plan. Practise your fire escape plan with all your family members.
- In the event of house fire don’t waste a second, leave your house and call the fire department.
- In the event of an apartment fire never use an elevator and always feel your door before exiting, if it is hot do not open it.
- Be careful with electricity. Spot devices that are dangerous or in poor condition: flickering lamps, bare wires, open circuit breakers etc.
- Give space heaters space. Leave at least one meter (three feet) between combustible materials and space heaters.
Pets get excited about the holidays too, but in that excitement they can knock over candles or pull down Christmas trees. Always keep an eye on your pets and make sure they don’t get into trouble, it will keep the whole family safe!