Wolverine Lake, MI – Due to the recent increase in house fires in the area, we thought that it might be a good time for some Holiday safety tips regarding fire safety.
Residential fires during the holiday season are more frequent, more costly, and more deadly than at any other time of the year. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports more than double the number of open – flame fires on Christmas Day than on an average day, and about twice as many on New Year’s Day. And when those fires occur, they do more damage: Property loss during a holiday fire is 34% greater than in an average fire, and the number of fatalities per thousand fires is nearly 70% higher. When the source of the fire is a highly flammable Christmas tree, the toll in property and lives is even greater. To keep your household from becoming a holiday fire statistic, here are some safety tips to follow.
Smoke Alarms A smoke alarm is the most important safety feature of your home. A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether you’re awake or asleep, a working smoke alarm is constantly on alert, scanning the air for fire and smoke. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two – thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.
Cooking Cooking is the top cause of holiday fires, according to the USFA. The most common culprit is food that’s left unattended. It’s easy to get distracted; take a pot holder with you when you leave the kitchen as a reminder that you have something on the stove. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires, and check that smoke detectors are working. If you’re planning to deep – fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.
Candles The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve. (The fifth is Halloween.) To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.
Christmas Trees It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames, according to the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Standards and Technology. A Christmas tree is almost explosive when it goes up in flames. To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well – watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources. No matter how well the tree is watered, it will start to dry out after about f our weeks. Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame – retardant. Decorative Lights Inspect light strings, and throw out any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don’t run more than three strings of lights end to end. Extension cords should be in good condition and UL – rated for indoor or outdoor use. Check outdoor receptacles to make sure the ground fault interrupters don’t trip. If they trip repeatedly, that’s a sign that they need to be rep laced. When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples, which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL – rated clips or hangers. And take lights down within 90 days. If you leave them up all year round, squirrels chew on them and they get damaged by weather.
Kids Playing with Matches The number of blazes — and, tragically, the number of deaths — caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. From January through March, 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire, in December that percentage doubles. So keep matches and lighters out of kids’ reach. Fireplaces Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote, so before the fireplace season begins, have your chimney inspected to see if it needs cleaning. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet, and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood — no wrapping paper. When cleaning out the fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal.
Please help us help you have a safe and happy Holiday season. Police Chief John M. Ellsworth Fire Chief James Dundas Wolverine Lake Police Department Commerce Twp. Fire Department