Fire Safety shares holiday tips

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daniel Snider
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are simple life-saving steps individuals can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday.

By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday casualty. Every year, fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of over 400 Americans, injure 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in damage.

Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house.  A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases. There are many factors to consider when selecting a tree for the holiday.

For instance, the needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and they should not break if the tree has been freshly cut, the trunk should be sticky to the touch.

Whereas older trees can be identified by bouncing the tree truck on the ground.  If many needles fall, the tree has been cut too long ago, has probably dried out and is a fire hazard.

After selecting a tree, there are precautions to help keep it safe and healthy. Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent.  The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flames or sparks.  Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree.

Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks.  Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. Never put lit candles on a tree and do not go near a Christmas tree with open flames like candles, lighters or matches.

Once a tree becomes expired or the holidays come to an end, it becomes time to dispose of the tree. When the tree becomes dry, remove it from your home, and never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

While Christmas trees present a hazard, they’re far from the only safety concern associated with this holiday season.

As in every season, all individuals should have working smoke alarms installed on every level of their residence.  These should be tested monthly and kept clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times.

Holiday lights, decorations and candles are to be taken seriously as well.

Remember to always follow the manufacturer safety recommendations provided with your lights and decorations. Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up.  Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory. Also, do not overload electrical outlets and do not link more than three light strands unless the directions indicate it is safe.

Remember to connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires because they shouldn’t be warm to the touch.

Additionally, do not leave holiday lights on unattended and all decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents. Try to avoid using lit candles, but if you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked over. Never leave the house with candles burning.

Lastly, after all the presents have been opened, remember to never put wrapping paper in a fireplace as it can result in a very large fire, creating dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.

Individuals are reminded to practice their home escape plans and know how to call for help. 

For more information, call the Moody Fire Prevention Office at (220) 257-4410.