Be Safe This Holiday Season
The holiday season brings joy and happiness here in Naples. Enjoying these pleasurable times, many local families and visitors drive through Victoria Park admiring the finely decorated homes, some with thousands of Christmas lights. Many families are brought together to celebrate the season by decorating a Christmas tree and their homes, or putting up displays and lighting candles. With all the pleasures of the holiday season, we must all be mindful of the potential fire dangers.
Next to the 4th of July, all the holidays during the winter months including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and New Year’s Day have an increase in the amount of structure fires and the dollar loss from these fire is 34 percent greater than normal. The increase in fire is directly contributed to decorative use of Christmas trees and the use of candles in the home.
To protect your family and home from holiday fires always follow manufacturer’s directions on use and care of decorative lights. Each time inspect those electrical decorations for any type of damage. Be sure to check for loose or bare wires, cracked sockets and loose connections at the light bulbs. Overloaded electrical outlets can be a common cause of fires around the holidays, so always be aware of amperage needs and use the appropriate surge protector or extension cords.
The Christmas tree in your home can be a hazard as well. The best fire safety practices include purchasing flame retardant artificial trees. Make sure to check and ensure that the tree you purchase has been treated with fire retardant sprays by reading labels thoroughly. Although many of us enjoy real Christmas trees, they can be a fire hazard, especially if allowed to dry out or exposed to heat such as fireplaces and holiday candles.
Holiday candles are the cause for nearly half of all home decoration fires, so if possible use battery operated candles instead of traditional candles. If you desire to use the traditional candles, never leave flame unattended, place the candles in a location safe from being knocked over and away from combustible materials like wrapping paper, stockings and the Christmas tree.
FACTS AND TIPS ABOUT HOLIDAY FIRE SAFETY
- One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. • One of every 31 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home fires.
- A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four Christmas tree fires.
- December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.
- One-third of all candle fires start in the bedroom.
- Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle.
- Keep candles out of reach of children. • Make sure candles are on stable surfaces.
- Don’t burn candles near trees, curtains or any other flammable items.
- Only use lighting evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- 905 people die in winter home fires each year.
- $2,091,000,000 in property loss occurs from winter home fires.
- 67 percent of winter fires occur in one- and two-family homes.
- Cooking is one of the leading causes of all winter home fires.
It is all of our intentions to enjoy the holiday season, but everyone should take a moment to ensure they have protected their homes and families from potential dangers and celebrate the holiday season with fire safety in mind.
(Sources: National Fire Protection Association, U.S. Fire Administration, Electrical Safety Foundation and National Incident Reporting System 2009-2014)
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