December - Winter and Holiday Safety
Winter and Holiday Safety
The holidays are rapidly approaching again. With them comes times of celebration, family gatherings, good cooking, decorating, entertaining and the increased risk of fire from various sources, some related to the holidays directly and indirectly.
- In 1999, there were 370 Christmas tree fires in the U.S.A., resulting in 5 deaths, 60 injuries, and $15.7 million in direct property damage.
- In this same year, candles in U.S. homes caused an estimated 15,040 fires, 102 deaths, 1,473 injuries and $278 million in direct property damage.
- The monthly average for candle fires is 8%, but 14% of these incidents occurred in December.
- 11% of the December candle fires started from fires beginning when decorations caught fire. In other months of the year, only 2 % was attributable to this cause.
Obviously, our prayers shall be that no family or individual has to experience a tragedy of this nature or any other for that matter. We can reduce this possibility by remaining focused on precautions that will help to protect our families, property and ourselves.
SAFETY TIPS FOR HOLIDAY DECORATING AND LIGHTING
- Use caution with holiday decorations. When possible use flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.
- Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials. Do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
- Purchase lights and other electrical decorations from an approved testing laboratory, like Underwriters Laboratories.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and maintenance.
- Inspect new and used strings of lights, replacing damaged items before plugging them in.
- Always unplug lights before replacing light bulbs or fuses.
- Do not overload extension cords.
- Don't mount the lights where they can damage the cord wire's insulation.
- Keep children and pets away from lights and other electrical decorations.
- Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving the home or going to bed. I, personally have a fear of leaving lighted candles on when leaving the house. I always try to double-check to be sure that they are extinguished.
SAFETY TIPS FOR HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING
- Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday guests and family, remember to keep your mind on "what's cooking."
- If you allow smoking in the home, provide large, deep ash trays for the guests.
- Check the trays for smoldering cigarette butts, dispose of them down the toilet.
- As soon as the guests have gone, check the upholstery and cushions and inside the garbage cans for smoldering butts.
- If you do allow or have smokers visiting in the home, caution them, as a friendly reminder, to hold on to their smoking materials to protect them from young children.
- Keep matches and lighters up high and out of reach of children.
- Test your smoke alarms at least biannually.
- Inform the guests of the exits and escape routes, in case of an emergency,
AVOID THE FLAMES
REMOVE THE PAIN!
Facts: NFPA- FACT SHEET
Ted Gordon is the Risk Management/Loss Control Manager for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. His office is located in the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, in Verona, MS. His telephone number is 662-566-2201.