USFA Fire Administrator Chief Keith Bryant shares how to prevent home fires and keep your family safe this holiday season.
Traditionally, the winter holidays are a time for families and friends to get together. While some gatherings may look different this year due to COVID-19, many traditions remain. It’s fun to decorate for the winter holidays and cook special meals, but holiday decorations and cooking can increase your risk for a home fire. As you deck the halls this season or fix a festive meal, be fire smart.
Be careful with your holiday decorations. Make sure they don’t block windows and doors. Additionally, following a few simple tips can help make your holidays fire-safe.
- Water your live Christmas tree every day. A dry tree is a fire hazard. Trees too close to a heat source cause one in every four winter fires.
- Make sure you are using the right lights. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
- Keep lit candles away from decorations and things that can burn. More than 1/3 of home decoration fires are started by candles. Consider using flameless candles, they look very similar and are safer.
- Blow out lit candles and turn off all light strings and decorations when leaving the room or going to bed.
Due to social distancing precautions, many of us may be attempting to cook a holiday meal for the first time this year. Cooking is the main cause of home fires and injuries no matter the season. From frying a turkey to making pies, be sure to follow these tips to prevent cooking fires.
- Stand by your pan – if you leave your kitchen, turn the burner off.
- Watch what you’re cooking. If you see any smoke, or grease starts to boil, turn the burner off.
- Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to prevent them being bumped or pulled over.
- Keep a pan lid or baking sheet near by to put out pan fires.
Home fire fatalities increase during the winter. To make sure communities know about the increased risk, USFA partners with the National Fire Protection Association to Put a Freeze on Winter Fires. The initiative focuses on hazards that may increase a family’s risk of having a house fire. Follow #winterfiresafety on your social channels.