Now that the Thanksgiving holiday has passed and Christmas season is in full swing, members of the San Joaquin County Fire Chiefs Association has issued its annual fire safety tips to get families through the holidays safely.
“The use of holiday decorations such as Christmas trees, garlands, electric lights and candles can increase the incidence of holiday fires,” said Kirk Noffsinger, fire chief at Linden-Peters and president of the county fire chiefs association. “Following a few simple fire safety tips can help ensure that you and your loved ones have a fire-safe holiday season.”
Holiday Lighting: Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Connect strings of lights to an approved extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Inspect all cords for damage and discard them as necessary.
Candle Care: Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles. If you do use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders, and place them where they cannot be knocked down easily. (December is the peak time of year for home candle fires, 11 percent began with decorations). Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.
If you choose a live Christmas tree follow the following guidelines: Make sure your tree is at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, space heaters, candles or heat vents. Keep the tree stand full of water at all times. Get rid of your tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and no more than 50 bulbs for screw-in light sets. (A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every six of Christmas tree fires) NFPA statistics show that on average, Christmas trees are the ignition source of 300 reported U.S. home structure fires each year resulting in 14 fatalities, 21 injuries and $ 16.8 million in property damage.
Here is a checklist to help make your holiday safe:
Check your fire extinguisher, if you don’t have one ... get one.
Keep all flammable and combustible liquids away from heat sources.
Remove electrical cords from under rugs.
Make sure all doors and windows are in working order and not obstructed.
Test your smoke detectors each month.
Never barbeque or use open flame heating indoors.
Follow all manufacturers’ directions for using turkey fryers.
Contact your local fire department if you need additional information.
“The San Joaquin County Fire Chiefs Association wishes you and yours a fire-safe holiday season,” said Noffsinger.