The holidays are a favorite time of year for many. But it is also a season when distractions run high as people try to find perfect gifts, host houseguests and attend parties and gatherings. Unfortunately, distraction sometimes leads to catastrophe. According to the National Fire Protection Association:
- Between 2011-2015, Christmas tree fires caused an average of six deaths, 16 injuries and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually.
- December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.
- In 2014, the three leading dates for home structure fires caused by cooking were Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
- Nearly 40 percent of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January.
Here are some quick safety tips to ensure that the holidays stay merry and bright.
- Keep live trees well-hydrated.
- Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Remove trees promptly after the holidays.
- Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory such as UL.
- Use lights as intended. Some are only meant for indoor use while others are specifically made for use outdoors.
- Replace any light strings that are damaged, frayed or have loose bulb connections.
- Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food.
- Keep anything that can catch fire (oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels) away from the stovetop.
- Keep children and pets out of the kitchen while cooking.
- Do not remove batteries from smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors to power holiday gifts.
- Stock up on batteries ahead of time to ensure toys and electronics that require batteries can be enjoyed without disabling safety devices.
- Dispose of batteries properly. Do not discard them in the trash.