The holiday season is a very stressful time of year for all of us. When we allow this stress to take over our lives, we put our families in danger. A fire at any time of year is like a death in a family. We have to protect our families. We all pride ourselves in being safe, but I want you to look hard at some of our holiday habits.
We can’t wait to put up our Christmas tree. If you are putting up a live tree right after Thanksgiving by Christmas you have a torch just waiting to be ignited in the middle of your living room. We think if we keep it watered it will be fine, but even a live fir tree can catch on fire. The problem is that the sap has sealed up the trunk of the tree and it is unable to drink the water. You have to make a new cut and put that fresh cut into water. By the time the trees get to your area, they have already been cut for several days or maybe weeks. So please be careful with your tree. As I was doing research for this article I found a website with a video that will make you stop and think about your tree. In less than sixty seconds the living room was completely engulfed in flames.
Another big hazard in our homes is candles. We love the way they look flickering on our mantels and our tables, but with the stress of the holidays it is easy to forget about them. I have a rule in my house. I only burn candles in the evening and I set a timer to remind me to blow them out. I only burn candles that are in jars or votives in small votive candle holders. My favorite candles to burn are little tea lights. They only burn for a couple of hours and many times they burn out by themselves. I always put them in a votive candle holder too. Glass that is not made for candles can explode.
Then we have our holiday light displays. We get in a hurry and use extension cords that are not safe to use outside. Then we plug in too many strands. This can cause the extension cords to get hot and short out. If these lights are on your Christmas tree then you can have a flash fire. Make sure that the lights, timers, extension cords you use outside are made to be outside.
One other thing we do is burn wrapping paper in our fireplaces. This is not a good thing to do. It can cause a chimney fire by igniting the creosote in your chimney. These fires can smolder for several hours and then break out of the chimney into your attic. So please get your chimney cleaned each year to remove this creosote.
Do you have a fire extinguisher that you can get to quickly? When I have had a live tree; I keep it in the living room. Keep in mind that many times you will not see the fire till it is already out of hand. Please make sure your smoke alarms have new batteries and are tested regularly. Do you know how to use a fire extinguisher? Learn now! Do you have all types of fire extinguishers: for Grease fires, electrical and other fires. Your extinguishers will have a code on them. Keep them in a logical place for each type of fire.
When was the last time you had a fire drill with your children in the middle of the night? It has been proven the children sleep so soundly that they do not hear the alarms. Can you get to your babies, if the house if filled with smoke? Do you have an escape plan for your family in the event of a fire; a place to meet outside; by the tree in the front yard. You get the picture. People have died trying to save their children when they were already outside.
This may not have to do with the holidays but it is big fire hazard. Have you cleaned out your dryer vent lately? Lint collects inside of the hose and even the inside the dryer if there is a break in any of the air flow channels. We all need to do this a couple of times a year. The guys at Hey Tom found a dryer vent cleaning kit that is available in our flyshop.
If you have any questions about fire safety, call your local fire department: they love to teach you and your children how to protect yourself against the dangers of fire. Please be safe this holiday season.
Please be safe!