MSP offers Christmas fire safety tips

December 13, 2013

While the holidays are a time for celebration and gathering together with family and friends, the holidays are also a time for heightened awareness of the dangers of fire.

“The holiday season is a time when the risk of experiencing a house fire is increased,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Leavitt, Hart Post commander. “Some contributing factors include increased cooking in the kitchen, Christmas trees that get dry, the use of candles, electrical outlets that become overloaded, frayed electrical cords, unsafe holiday decorations and increased commotion in the house that might leave children unattended.”

The good news is these tragedies can be avoided by adopting some basic fire safety behaviors. The MSP offers the following fire safety reminders:

Take care when choosing a live Christmas tree. Do not purchase one that’s dry or losing its needles. Set the tree in a large, tip-proof stand, away from heat sources and exits, and water it daily. Keep presents away from hot tree lights.

Carefully inspect decorative lights for worn or frayed cords before use. Purchase only lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab (such as U.L.) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.

Always unplug lights, both inside and outside, before leaving the house or going to bed.
Choose flame-resistant, flame retardant or non-combustible materials for holiday decorations when ever possible.

When using candles, place them in large, tip-proof, heat resistant holders and keep them away from combustibles, children and pets.

Take extra care when cooking. Avoid having large crowds of people in the kitchen and never leave cooking unattended. Keep the stove area clean to avoid grease fires.

Have your chimney and furnace professionally inspected and cleaned. Don’t burn gift-wrappings in the fireplace, as this can cause chimney fires.

If you have to use space heaters, keep them at least three feet from any combustible surface or material. Don’t let children near space heaters, and never use them when you are asleep.

Have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, especially outside of sleeping areas. Test your alarms monthly and replace batteries at least once a year.

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