Peak fire months are approaching – how to avoid one this holiday season

US & World News

Miniature Christmas Lights

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— During the holiday season, food is being cooked and lights are being lit, but all the holiday festivities can result in something not so festive.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), December, January, and February are peak months for home fires.

Sharon Cooksey, Fire Safety Educator for Kidde, offers 12 ways to make your home safer from fire and CO risks this holiday season.

Here are some tips:

  1. Watch out for candle fires. More than a third of all home decoration fires are started by candles, with the most common time for candle fires being December – peaking on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Keep lit candles out of the reach of children and curious pets (cat tails and lit candles don’t mix!), and at least 12 inches from flammable items, such as holiday décor, fabrics like bedding and curtains, and Christmas trees. Always blow candles out when leaving a room.
  1. Or better yet, consider using flameless candles in lieu of real candles. (If you celebrate Chanukah or Kwanzaa, you can purchase an electric menorah or kinara, too.)
  1. Hanging lights? Consider using LED lights, which emit less heat than incandescent lights so they pose less of a fire hazard. Regardless, only use lights approved by a recognized testing laboratory, and ensure your lights are appropriate or designated for indoor use (or outdoor use, if using them outside). Replace any lights with worn/frayed or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Keep cords out of reach of kids (and pets, who might chew on them).
  1. If you’re giving your Christmas tree a literal glow up with lights, always turn them off before going to bed or leaving your home.
  1. Speaking of your tree, Christmas tree fires aren’t terribly common – but when they do occur, they tend to be serious. To prevent fires, ensure your tree is at least three feet from any source of heat, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights; add water to your tree stand daily, and make sure your tree isn’t blocking an exit.
  1. Everybody loves a “stockings hung on the fireplace” moment. But be sure to remove them and keep them at least three feet away before actually lighting a fire.
  1. Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected annually, and clean the area surrounding the fireplace of anything flammable.
  1. If you don’t have a fireplace, portable space heaters can provide instant warmth and coziness. Be sure to keep portable space heaters on a flat surface at least 3 feet away from anything flammable (curtains, upholstery, bedding, etc.) Always turn off and unplug space heaters when the leaving the room and/or going to bed.
  1. Many carbon monoxide (CO) deaths happen in the winter, when people heat their homes and don’t have outside sources of ventilation. Have your appliances inspected to ensure they’re properly installed and not malfunctioning. Sources of CO include appliances than run on natural gas, kerosene, propane, coal and gasoline.
  1. And on that note, make sure that you have CO alarms installed and that they’re up to date (they need to be replaced every 7-10 years). CO can travel anywhere in the home – even through drywall – so most often, one alarm is not enough. Install CO alarms throughout the entire home with at least one on every level, and consider including in living areas, bedrooms and hallways outside sleeping areas.
  1. If you have a *really* white Christmas and lose power, be careful when turning to a generator, which can be a major CO hazard. Install your generator outdoors at least 20 feet from the home with the exhaust pointing away from the house. Only operate the generator outdoors in a well-ventilated dry area, away from air intakes to the home, and protected from direct exposure to rain or snow. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions when using generators.
  1. If you’re one of those people that likes to keep the holiday cheer going as long as possible and you still have your natural Christmas tree up after the new year… sorry, it’s time to kick it to the curb. It’s likely dried out, which is a major fire hazard (most Christmas tree fires actually occur after the holidays).

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