Hot cider, festive decorations, family dinners and nights by the fire – there is a lot to love about fall and winter. Of course, there’s also taking your dog out into a freezing wasteland and scraping ice off your car in the mornings – but let’s not allow these small inconveniences bring down our holiday spirit.
The only thing that would truly ruin the holidays is a household fire – and there are many ways it can happen during this season. Stay cheery, keep warm and be careful around these fire hazards.
Are you a candle fanatic unable to leave a store without bringing home nice-smelling goodies? Even if your candle consumption is on the moderate end, you probably burn at least one or two candles to set the holiday mood with fir tree or peppermint scents. But even one candle can cause a fire. Follow these tips to stay safe:
- Never leave candles unattended, especially container-less pillar candles.
- Don’t use real candles outside where wind and wild animals can easily knock them over – opt for flameless candles for your porch and walkway.
- Place candles where children and pets can’t reach them and make sure that any flammable objects (lamp shades, Christmas trees, décor, etc.) are at least a foot away.
Fireplaces have a tendency to gather people – not only because they are warm and toasty, but because there’s something magical about having friends and family converse over the flaming logs. Whether you have an indoor fire place, an outdoor one or a fire pit that you use for bonfires – be sure to follow the safety rules to avoid fires:
- Perform annual chimney inspection and sweep to remove creosote buildup.
- Never use flammable liquids, such as gasoline or kerosene, to start a fire.
- Keep firewood on a safe distance from the fire.
- Use the spark guard for indoor fireplaces
- Don’t leave fire unattended and always extinguish it completely before going to bed.
Ovens, Ranges and Small Cooking Appliances
For some people, holiday season means visiting family and friends and getting a taste of every turkey and deviled eggs in the neighborhood. But someone has to cook all this food! So if you plan on spending a great deal of time rotating between the stove and the sink, keep in mind these cooking safety tips:
- Don’t leave your stove alone for more than 5 minutes.
- Promptly clean any spills before they get caked onto the cooktop, as food remains can catch fire.
- Do your best to stay organized and focused: don’t leave towels, wooden utensils or recipe books next to the burners.
- Use timers to prevent your meals from burning and phone alarms to remind you there’s something cooking.
- Never use oven or cooktop for domestic heating purposes.
- Be careful with turkey fryers and grills – don’t use them indoors, in a garage or around flammable surfaces.
Your furnace will be one hard-working appliance this winter. According to AccuWeather, we can expect lower than normal temperatures in some areas and more snow than usual in others. If you rely on a gas furnace to keep your home warm during winter, you might want to give it some TLC to increase efficiency and prevent fires.
- Have your furnace inspected by an HVAC professional who will check for rusted parts, loose connections and other physical damage that can lead to a fire.
- Add replacing (or washing) the filter to your monthly to-do list.
- Clear the area around the furnace to ensure unrestricted fresh air supply.
- Don’t store flammable and combustible materials near the furnace.
Christmas Lights and Fireworks
Christmas lights are staples of holiday décor. But let’s not forget that, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, lights, trees and lighted décor are involved in more than 300 fires each year. Here are a few things to consider while decorating your home with holiday lights:
- Water the Christmas tree to prevent it from drying out and becoming fire wood.
- Follow these tips for safely installing outdoor lights.
- Don’t leave holiday lights on when you go to bed or leave the house.
- If fireworks are legal to launch in your area, make sure you buy only legal, properly labeled fireworks and follow the instructions.
Finally, watch out for power outages that are common in winter due to heavy snowfall in some areas. Unplug everything as soon as the power goes out, especially if you plan on leaving home. And no matter which fire hazard you might face, it helps to have a working fire extinguisher at hand and know how to use it. Have your own winter fire safety tips? Feel free to share in the comments!