It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time to decorate the house, get the deep fryer out (for the turkey of course), string up lights and put the fireplace into permanent use. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous times of the year. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, Christmas tree fires cause an average of $16.4 million in property damage every year while more than 5,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for falls while decorating.
No matter what holiday you’re decorating for, it’s important to keep a few key safety precautions in mind.
You’ve heard it time and time again: the holiday season is the time of year when the most house fires occur. Candles, decorative lights and faulty electrical systems are some of the most common sources of potentially dangerous house fires.
- First thing is first: when was the last time you actually checked out your electrical system? Look for frayed wires and faulty outlets. Make sure extension cords are in working order and be sure not to overload them. The National Safety Council recommends limiting the number of light sets plugged into an extension cord to three.
- Christmas trees are beautiful but flammable, especially when they dry out. Fresh trees are less likely to catch fire so make sure to keep your tree watered. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 1 in 4 holiday fires are caused by Christmas trees placed too close to heat sources like fireplaces and candles. Keep them at least three feet away.
- If you prefer artificial trees, be sure it’s labeled “fire resistant.” Don’t drape lights on metal trees; they conduct electricity and you don’t want anyone to be electrocuted!
- Minimize the number of lit candles you have and if you must use them, never leave them unattended (especially with children or pets).
Stringing colorful lights and propping Rudolph up in the front yard hardly seems dangerous but there are plenty of safety precautions you can take while decorating the outside of your house.
- This seems like a no-brainer, but only use lights specifically designed for outdoor use.
- Keep plugs for outdoor lights off the ground and out of puddles and snow. Never use nails to attach lights to your home, use insulated hooks or staples instead.
- Use ladders with slip-resistant feet and don’t overreach when stringing up lights. This seems obvious but thousands of people go to the hospital every holiday season after falling off ladders. You can never be too careful!
- Turn off lights every night when you go to bed and when you leave for the day (this will also help prevent your electricity bill from skyrocketing!).
Many people spend a great portion of their time in the kitchen in November and December. It should come as no surprise then that most kitchen fires happen during this time of year, usually due to distractions, multitasking, alcohol consumption, exhaustion or simply being inexperienced.
- If you invite over a big crowd, designate a specific number of people who are allowed in the kitchen. Too many chefs and too much foot traffic create distractions resulting in accidents.
- Before you begin the cooking marathon, give your stove, oven and any other appliances you’ll use a deep clean to get rid of grease and food buildup.
- Make sure your knives are sharp. This may seem counterintuitive, but you’re actually more likely to injure yourself with dull knives because you have to work harder to slice or chop.
- If you’re experimenting with the deep fryer this year, do it outside on a flat surface at least 10 feet away from the house. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dried because excess water can make the hot oil bubble up and overflow. Keep a fire extinguisher within easy reach, just in case.
In case of a kitchen fire:
- If the contents of a pot catch fire, quickly put the lid or a tray over it and turn off the stove. Don’t try to take the pot to the sink.
- If the fire begins in the oven, close the door and turn it off. If the fire is small, this will usually prevent it from growing.
- Never pour water on a grease fire- this will only make it worse. Use a fire extinguisher or in a pinch, baking soda if the fire is small. Of course, if this doesn’t extinguish the fire, call 911 and leave the kitchen.
This should be a joyous time of year. Don’t let distractions or negligence ruin your holiday or even your home. Following the advice above will keep you and your family safe this season.
What safety advice do you have for us? Let us know in the comments below!
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