Whether celebrating Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas or more, fire safety precaution needs to be taken this festive season. Many hallmarks of the holiday season, including decorations, cooking, baking, and Christmas trees, present potential fire hazards that contribute to an annual increase in home fires. Taking extra time out for safety can seem like a tall order, luckily fires and most importantly burns can be prevented with a little added awareness and planning — that can mean the difference between a happy holiday and a dangerous disaster.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are among the leading days of the year for home fires. By knowing where potential fire hazards exist and taking some basic safety precautions to prevent them, people can enjoy a festive, fire-free holiday season.
Here are some tips to make sure you and your home don’t become another statistic this festive season
- Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires. Never leave a cooker unattended and switch off cooking appliances after use- most fires start in the kitchen.
- Prevent electrical fires by ensuring you buy holiday lights that have been tested for safety by an independent laboratory. Check for a label.
- Verify if lights are for indoor or outdoor use. They’re either one or the either and never both.
- Don’t overload power sockets.
- Inspect your lights and don’t use damaged, worn or frayed cables.
- Make sure you know the correct wattage for replacement bulbs.
- If you do buy new lights, LED lights are more fire safe.
- “Touch test” your extension cords after plugging them in and removing. They should not be hot.
- Do not tuck extension cords under the tree skirt or other area rugs.
- Unplug lights before going to bed or leaving your house.
- Never attach decorations to lights or heaters.
- Keep heaters away from soft furnishings and decorations.
- Never place candles near your Christmas tree, decorations, wrapping paper or furnishings.
- Put candles in a purpose-made holder and on a sturdy heat-resistant surface away from curtains or fabrics.
- Never put candles under shelves.
- Never leave burning candles unattended.
- Keep candles, lighters and matches out of the reach of children and pets.
- Keep cut trees watered to prevent drying out quickly. A dry tree can burn in less than a minute.
- Keep your tree at least 3 feet from a furnace, fireplace or portable heater.
- After Christmas, put the tree out promptly for proper disposal or recycling to reduce the risk for fire.
How fast can Christmas tree fires spread?
In controlled tests, fire researchers found that a dry Christmas tree can become engulfed in less than 10 seconds. And “flashover” occurs roughly 70 seconds after an unwatered tree is ignited. Well-watered trees, by contrast, do not usually allow flames to spread beyond one section of burning branches.
Whatever your choice in Christmas tree this year, make sure you give it water daily. If a dry tree sparks it can be reduced to ash in seconds, and Santa Claus won’t be coming down the chimney with a fire hose.
Some Safety Precautions
- Make sure that everyone in your house knows what to do if there is a fire and how to escape safely.
- Have a working smoke alarm fitted on all levels of your property.
- Test your smoke alarm(s) every week and make sure to replace the battery or the smoke alarm if it isn’t working.
- Have a list of emergency service contact numbers displayed where everyone can see them e.g. on the fridge.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby hazardous areas e.g. the kitchen and braai area
- Keep Burnshield nearby for instant burn relief and treatment.
View our Burnshield range of products here.