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'Tis the season for home fires

Along with more festive fare, now is also the season for home fires.

A little knowledge and a little preparation can make all the difference in keeping your season safe, as well as merry and bright.

Protect your home from fire

Last week we gave some tips on how to decorate for the holidays in a safe way.

Today, we have some more tips, not just for decorating, but also how to prepare and entertain with safety in mind.

For starters, all decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents and other sources of heat.

As you move things around to accommodate the tree, extra company or large parties, remember to never block an exit route. In the event of a fire, time is of the essence. A blocked exit puts you, your family and friends at risk. All families should have at least two ways out of each room.

Safety in the kitchen

Cooking and baking are the top causes of home fires. Make sure to stay in the house when you’re baking. And, if you are frying or broiling, stay in the kitchen itself!

On holidays many women cooks wear their flowing holiday outfits. Those draping sleeves can be a recipe for disaster, fire professionals say. Choose a festive outfit that doesn’t pose a risk while cooking. Tragic fires happen around the holidays when fancy outfits and hectic households collide.

Fire extinguishers have to be renewed every few years. If your house doesn’t have one, they make a great gift!

What to do in a grease fire

If you find yourself with a grease fire on your stove, here is what you can do.

First, take a deep breath. Then, if you can safely do so, come in from the side and turn off the burner.

Second, if it is safe to do so, scoot a lid onto the pot. This will limit the oxygen that was feeding the fire.

Third, again, if it is safe, carefully slide the pot to a cool burner.

Do not ever attempt to move the burning pot from the stove. What often happens is that people panic and grab the pot to take it to the sink. Grease can slosh out and burn people and spread the flames. If you can’t safely do what is outlined above, call the fire department and get everyone out of the house.

Turkey fryers

Many people are using turkey fryers to deep fry turkeys for holiday meals.

However, if you’re considering using a turkey fryer to create your Christmas feast, please be sure to have it placed on a concrete slab or grassy area at least 10 feet away from any structure such as your house or garage. Do not cook on a wooden deck.

Also, remember to never put water on any kind of grease fire, it will only spread the flames. A fire extinguisher is the best to combat bigger grease fires or baking soda for something contained in a pot. Again, don’t hesitate to call the fire department.

Decorate safely!

If you choose to have a natural Christmas tree, it’s critical that you keep it well watered!

When decorating inside and outside with lights, throw out any strands that are frayed or kinked. Do not string together more strands than suggested on the package.

Candle fires a risk

Historically December is the peak month for candle-caused residential fires.

It should go without saying, but never place a candle near flammable decorations. Limit your use of real candles and add the battery-operated ones for ambiance.

Burning candles are an especially “attractive nuisance” to small children. So, be mindful about placing them out of their reach and ability to spill hot, flaming candle wax on their little hands and faces.

Of course, never leave the house with candles burning and make sure they are all out before heading to bed.

After the party

After a holiday gathering, remember to check for any lit candles, cigarettes smoldering or oven or burner still on.

Also, if there’s been a gift exchange, remember that burning wrapping paper in the fireplace or wood stove is a bad idea for a number of reasons. Primarily, it simply isn’t safe. (It also creates a lot of ash, unnecessarily.) Because it burns so hot and quickly, wrapping paper can cause chimney fires. Only wood belongs in a wood stove.

That reminds us, if you haven’t had your chimney cleaned in more than a year, now is the time. (Santa will appreciate it – and it may save you a chimney fire!)

Smoke Detectors are key

Of course, make sure you have working smoke detectors on every level of your house. And, if you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector yet, it’s time to start shopping for one for each floor!


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