Holiday Fire Safety Tips- Philadelphia Insurance Companies

'Tis the Season for Holiday Fire Safety

'Tis the Season for Holiday Fire Safety

It's the most wonderful time of the year - but it can also be the riskiest time if important holiday fire safety measures aren't followed to protect people and property.

December is one of the leading months for home fires due to an increased use of flammable decorations, candles, and heating sources like space heaters or fireplaces, according to the National Fire Protection Agency.

Don't let your holiday celebrations go up in flames. Read on to learn valuable holiday fire safety tips and suggestions.

Candle Fire Safety

There's nothing like the warm glow of candlelight during the holiday season. In fact, approximately 35% of candle sales occur during this time of year, the National Candle Association reports. However, these festive sources of cheer can also be sources of disaster if proper candle safety isn't followed.

The NFPA notes that while 33% of home decoration fires throughout the year are started by candles, in the month of December the number of candles causing such fires jumps to 46%.

The most immediate solution to prevent candle fires is to use flameless candles. However, it may not be possible to forgo typical candles for important traditions such as lighting the menorah during Hanukkah.

Here are some candle safety tips to keep people and property safe:

  • If you exit the room, extinguish the flame. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Place candles at least 12 inches away from other highly combustible items, such as decorations, drapes, and furniture.
  • Candleholders should be sturdy and difficult to tip over, and the surfaces on which they are placed should be clear of clutter.
  • Children should never be left alone in a room with lit candles or any open flame. Be sure to place burning candles out of reach of kids or pets.
  • Don't light or burn candles if oxygen cylinders are used in the home or building.

Holiday Lights & Decorations Dos and Don'ts

Clark W. Griswold wanted to provide his family with a stunning Christmas light display in the holiday classic "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" - but he made many dangerous errors in the process.

These holiday decorating safety tips will help you avoid making the same mistakes Clark did:

  • Ensure decorations are not hanging near a heat source or open flame.
  • Do not overcrowd outlets by attaching too many string lights together. This Old House suggests keeping an outlet's total load under 15 amps or volts.
  • Check Christmas lights for damaged or exposed wiring and missing or broken bulbs, and replace or discard as needed.
  • Lights should be used based on the manufacturer's instructions; inside lights should not be used outside and vice versa.
  • Check the condition of extension cords and power strips, and plug these only into wall sockets, away from walking areas, and above rugs/carpeting.
  • DO NOT DAISY-CHAIN POWER STRIPS (plugging one power strip into another).
  • Use clips or hooks instead of nails or staples when hanging lights to avoid damaging them.
  • Always turn off holiday light decorations when closing your business for the day or leaving a room.

Christmas Tree Fire Prevention

The Christmas tree is one of the most recognizable symbols of the holiday season, but it is also one of the top causes of holiday fires. Between 2016 and 2020, there was an average of 160 home fires involving Christmas trees, totaling $12 million in direct property damage per year, according to the NFPA.

Keep these tips in mind to prevent Christmas tree fires:

  • If using a real tree, go for the freshest tree possible and keep it watered daily so it does not dry out.
  • Never use lit candles as tree decorations.
  • Keep trees at least three feet from any heat sources (fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, etc.).
  • Only purchase artificial trees labeled "fire resistant."
  • Artificial trees with built-in electrical lights should be stamped with an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.

According to the NFPA, 8% of Christmas tree fires are started by candles, while electrical distribution or lighting equipment are involved in almost half of home tree fires. Nearly one in five are started by lamps or bulbs.

Check out this video to see just how quickly a dried-out Christmas tree can burn.

Holiday Cooking Hazards

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, and the second-leading cause of home fire deaths, the NFPA reports, with Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and Christmas Eve being the peak days for home cooking fires to occur.

To avoid burning your dinner - and your property - follow these holiday cooking safety tips:

  • Keep anything away from the stovetop that could catch on fire, including oven mitts, food packaging, or kitchen towels.
  • Implement cooking fire prevention devices, such as stovetops that sense unattended cooking or limit the temperature of the cooking surface.
  • Have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen area.

For more information on how to avoid holiday hazards and protect your property, contact us at:

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