Fire Marshals and Experts Nationwide Warn Against Holiday Fire Hazards
Although the weather may vary across the United States this holiday season, there’s one thing that all homeowners, apartment dwellers, and even business owners need to be conscious of this December. The winter holidays present some of the biggest fire safety issues throughout the country.
In Tuscon, AZ, the Golder Ranch Fire District wants to keep people safe, especially if they plan on bringing a Christmas tree into their homes or have one there already.
“Once the tree starts to dry out, it becomes a real fire hazard in your home,” Anne-Marie Braswell, community relations manager for Golder Ranch Fire District, told Tuscon News Now.
One sure sign that a tree is drying out, Braswell said, is that the needles will drop more easily from the tree.
A well-hydrated tree is less likely to catch fire, however, so both residential and commercial property owners who have Christmas trees up should make sure that the tree stand has enough water in it at all times.
The National Fire Protection Association reports that one out of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems, such as those related to the use of string lights or other decorations. Candle fires also tend to break out during the month of December because many people may leave them too close to their Christmas trees.
Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan also points to candle fires as a cause of home and apartment fires in the winter. Cooking and heating in general top the list for winter fire causes, he said, but candle fires are the most common on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Those who want to burn candles should do so with a one-foot “circle of safety,” Coan told the Greenfield, MA, Recorder. This is crucial for both home and apartment fire protection as people use candles to decorate or for religious reasons.
“Many of the holidays celebrated at this time of year use candles,” he said, adding that, “Sadly, the increased candle use at this time of year also causes a boost in candle fires.”
Coan gave the example of a fire last Christmas Eve in a 13-unit apartment building, which the Lowell Fire Department responded to. The wallpaper in a first-floor apartment’s living room ignited because a candle was burning too close to it.
Although the apartment’s alarm system was working and no one was injured, there were no fire sprinkler systems in this unit. The total damages from the fire were estimated at around $15,000.
The Chapel Hill Fire Department in North Carolina is also warning people to stay safe during the holiday season.
Deputy chief fire marshal Todd Iager said that the highest number of house fires start in the kitchen, so don’t cook while distracted.
“When people come over make sure you turn the stove off,” Iager told Chapelboro.com. “Make sure you keep anything that can burn away from the stove, make sure you keep your kids away from the stove and make sure you’re taking care of the safety in the kitchen before you get distracted, whether it’s having a drink with relatives or giving somebody a hug.”