Keep the Fire in the Fireplace: Seven Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

When the fireplace is roaring and the decorations are twinkling, it's easy to forget about the destructive power of fire and electricity.
When the fireplace is roaring and the decorations are twinkling, it’s easy to forget about the destructive power of fire and electricity.

A roaring fire to keep warm is one of the best elements of a memorable holiday, but only if it’s in the fireplace and not spreading quickly from room to room. Here are some flashpoints for potential fire hazards. 

  • Christmas trees need care to keep them from becoming fire hazards. Place them at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces or heaters, keep them well-watered to prevent them from drying out and make sure your lights have no frayed wires or loose connections.  
  • Candles are part of many holiday traditions, but open flames must always be monitored and kept away from anything flammable. Keep candles in locations where they can’t be knocked over, keep them away from children and never leave open flames unattended. Keep decorations like tinsel away from open flames. 
  • Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. Test them and make sure their power sources are working. 
  • Have a fire safety plan. Everyone in the household should know how to escape a fire and have a plan for getting out safely. Make sure everyone knows it and that adults have designated roles to help children and the elderly who might have difficulty getting out of the house on their own in an emergency. 
  • Portable space heaters are convenient, but they can get very hot to the touch and can ignite flammable material if used incorrectly. Create a three-foot safe zone around heaters where they are not in contact with anything, and make sure children understand to keep away from them when the heaters are turned on. 
  • Use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors. They are rated and tested for those environments, so make sure you use them correctly. Make sure they have labels confirming that they are approved by an accredited certification agency. 
  • Christmas is the season for tangled nests of electrical cords that can start fires when used improperly. Don’t run extension cords under carpets where they can overheat, and avoid overloading circuits by combining too many extension cords and power bars in one outlet. 

Spending time indoors with friends and loved ones is one of the great pleasures of the holiday season. To keep everyone safe, holiday decorations, fireplaces, space heaters and electrical cords need special care and attention. Attend carefully to heating and electrical sources in the cold weather and be prepared to manage emergencies should they arise. Preparation and situational awareness will always help guarantee a safe and memorable holiday

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