Safety Tips for Your Holiday Season
How prepared are you to handle an unexpected house fire? In fact, are you prepared at all? Every year there are many fires which occur in homes across the country causing structural damages, civilian injuries and even in some cases, death. Many of these fires occur during the holiday seasons; therefore, it is important to know what precautions you can take to significantly reduce the fire risk in your own home. This article lists seven safety tips to follow not only for the holiday season, but all year round.
1. Avoid Heat Sources. Heat sources are not limited to fireplaces; they can include radiators and space heaters as well. When objects come in direct contact with these heat sources, fires can be started. During the Christmas holiday season, do not put your real tree or artificial tree, regardless of size, near any of these heat generating sources.
2. Keep your real Christmas tree watered at all times. It is important to water your tree daily by making sure the water basin is always at its proper level. When a Christmas tree is properly watered and is able to retain its moisture, it is referred to as a “wet” tree. A wet tree is the safest kind of tree you can have. Once your tree becomes dry (needles turning brown and falling to the ground) remove the tree immediately from the house. Make sure to follow all the instructions given to you from Cawley Family Farm. To see the how a wet tree compares to an improperly cared for dry tree view this video.
3. Have a Fire Escape Route Plan for you and your family. An escape plan lays out all the possible exits in a building should a fire occur. Review the safety plan strategy with your entire family and discuss which exits to use depending upon which room you are in. There should be two exits from every room. Knowing what to do and where to go prior to when a fire actually occurs will help your family avoid panic which often causes irrational thinking.
Teach your family what to do when smoke fills a room, by explaining how smoke rises and therefore the best way to leave a smoke filled room is to cover your mouth and nose while staying as close to the floor while making your way to the nearest exit. Teach them to never open a door until they have checked if there is fire on the other side. The way to check for fire is to place the back of your hand on the door, if the door is hot there is probably a fire on the other side. Do not open the door as the flames can rush in. Instead find another exit. For more information on home fire escape planning including additional specific instructions and help, visit the National Fire Protection Agency web site.
4. Be aware of potential fire hazards in the kitchen area. Always keep items such as pot holders, mitts, paper towels and other flammable objects away from the edges of any hot surface such as a stovetop or oven. Many fires start in the kitchen and it is important to know how to handle a fire. Should a grease fire start in a frying pan, do not pour water on it. Instead put a mitt on to protect your hands, then take the lid and cover the pan. This will put out the flame by preventing oxygen from getting to the flame. Lastly turn off the heat and let cool. Do not reach to turn off the heat prior to covering the pan with the lid because the grease may burn your arm while reaching for the off knob. Never attempt to move the pan to the sink while the flame is active since the movement and the air will feed the flames. If you feel the fire is too much to handle and you feel unsafe, leave the house immediately and use your cell phone to call 911.
5. Be mindful of where you hang holiday decorations and lights. Do not staple or nail electrical cords or decorations to the walls or other place. Remember to keep such decorations such as garland (fake or real) away from heat sources.
6. Plug outdoor lights into ground fault circuit interrupters. This prevents electrical surges which can lead to electrical sparks and fires. The National Fire Protection Associations states:
Electrical shock can occur if a person comes into contact with an energized part. GFCIs (ground-fault circuit-interrupters) can greatly reduce the risk of shock by immediately shutting off an electrical circuit when that circuit represents a shock hazard (i.e., a person comes in contact with a faulty appliance together with a grounded surface). GFCIs can be installed in a circuit breaker panelboard or directly in a receptacle outlet.7. Check all smoke detectors at least once a year. Christmas time is an easy time of year to remember to do this. Teach everyone in the family how to change batteries and to check the status of each smoke detector. A smoke detector will only warn you of a potential or occurring fire if it is working properly. If you are unsure how to check your smoke detectors, contact your manufacturer or look in the manual. The NFPA Director of High Risk Outreach Programs talks about smoke alarm safety tips in this video.
It is important to arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can about topics relating to safety hazards in your home. The Christmas season is a time of joyous celebration for you and your family and what greater gift to give than a safe Christmas.
Have a wonderful and safe Christmas season!