CAMP DOUGLAS, Wis. -- The holiday season is an especially critical time to consider fire safety. The number of cooking fires routinely starts to increase around Thanksgiving and peak in December and are the leading cause of house fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). The agency says heating fires occur more often in the winter months when the use of central heating systems, portable heaters, and fireplaces is most common.
Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urge residents to use extra caution this holiday season.
“It is always important to consider home fire safety, and particularly during the winter months and holidays,” said WEM Administrator Mike Hinman.
Many Wisconsin communities have launched holiday fire prevention campaigns such as “Keep the Wreath Green.”
“FEMA supports community initiatives to prepare for disaster, including holiday fire prevention and other safety campaigns,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Paul Ricciuti.
For information about FEMA’s community preparedness initiative, visit: challenge.gov/FEMA/87-preparing-our-communities-before-a-disaster-strikes
- Select a fresh tree, sticky to the touch with green needles. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If needles fall off, the tree is already dry, making it a fire hazard;
- Avoid placing a tree near a heating vent;
- Keep the tree stand filled with water; and
- Consider using a flame-retardant artificial tree.
- Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up;
- Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory;
- Do not overload electrical outlets and do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe;
- Do not leave lights unattended; and
- Do not trap electric cords against walls where heat can build up.
- All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
- Do not leave cooking food unattended;
- Keep all cooking surfaces clean;
- Keep cooking and heating equipment away from combustibles such as paper, cloth and cardboard;
- Keep oven food packaging and other combustibles away from burners and heat sources;
- Heat cooking oil slowly and watch it closely; it can ignite quickly;
- Do not wear loose sleeves while working over hot stove burners - they can melt, ignite or catch on handles of pots and pans, spilling hot oil and other liquids;
- Have a "kid-free zone" of at least three-feet around the stove and areas where hot foods or drinks are prepared or carried; and
- Keep a lid nearby to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
- Avoid using electric space heaters as a heat source;
- Keep bedding, clothes, curtains and other combustible items at least three feet away from space heaters;
- Only use Underwriter's Laboratory (UL)- approved electric blankets and warmers; ...