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Don’t Let A Toasty Fire Ruin the Holidays

          Halloween is over and now it’s time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Nothing is better than the sweet smell of fresh cookies, Cider, or cooking of the turkey. However, some may not be able to smell that if a kitchen fire over powers that. Believe it or not, turkey fryers are very high on the list when it comes to house fires. We will mention some tips on how to prevent this from happening in such situation. We’ll also touch on heating equipment, which was the second leading cause of home fires and is involved in one of every five home fire deaths, according to the NFPA. Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was the fourth leading cause of home fires, and requires special care to keep all those strings of lights and other decorations burning bright and working safely.

Christmas Trees & Lighting

Although Christmas tree fires are not crazy common, there is always that oddball tree that ends up leaving a family with nothing. Here are a few statistics from the NFPA themselves.

• U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 200 home structure fires per year that began with Christmas trees in 2011-2015. These fires caused an annual average of 6 civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage.
• On average, one of every 32 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 143 total reported home fires. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are much more likely to be deadly than most other fires.
• Four of every five Christmas tree fires occurred in December or January.
• In one-quarter (26%) of the Christmas tree fires and 80% of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.

How to Pick the Perfect Tree

• Be sure to pick one of the greenest trees whose pine needles do not fall off when touched.

How to Properly Set the Tree Up

• Always cut at least 2” from the bottom of the tree trunk. (My mother always did this and taught me well!)
• Be sure to have the tree a safe distance from all candles, base boards, and vents. At least 3ft would be sufficient.
• Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
• Make sure to water the tree daily at the base in the stand. ( one of my least favorite things to do as a child)

Lighting the tree

• Be sure to use indoor lights for the tree and not outdoor ones. (very common mistake)
• Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. (my mother was also a pro at this)
• Never use lit candles to decorate the tree. (this one must be a given)
• Never leave the lights on when everyone is going to bed or leaving the home. (especially if you have a cat)

After Christmas

• Christmas trees are great for post-Christmas backyard fires. However, make sure they are nowhere near the house or garage. The dryer, the better. If you have goats, I promise they will devour the tree in about 1 day.

Heating equipment

Furnaces:

• We definitely recommend having your furnace serviced every fall to make sure everything is operating as it should and there are no possible disasters coming your way. The flame from the igniter should be the prettiest blue you have ever seen. It should also only be inside the furnace. It if starts coming out, you may have a very big problem.

Fireplaces:

• Fireplace chimneys regularly build up creosote that can ignite. Chimneys need to be cleaned out frequently and inspected for cracks and obstructions. Never burn trash, paper, or green wood in your fireplace because these are difficult to control and cause heavy creosote buildup. And use a fireplace screen that is both big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks and heavy enough to stop rolling logs.

Wood Stoves:

• Inspect and clean your stovepipe and chimney on a regular basis and check monthly for damage or obstructions. Be sure to keep combustible objects away from the stove. Be sure to check with your local fire department and check local codes before having your stove installed.

Smoke Detectors:

• Smoke detectors save lives. Install a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on each additional level of your home. Use the test button to check each smoke alarm once a month. Keep new batteries on hand. When necessary, replace batteries immediately. Replace all batteries at least once a year.

Fire Extinguishers:

• Consider having one or more working fire extinguishers in your home. Look at the fire extinguisher to ensure it is properly charged. Use the gauge or test button to check proper pressure. If the unit is low on pressure, damaged, or corroded, have it professionally serviced. Only adults should handle and use extinguishers.

Electrical Outlets:

• Don’t overload your outlets. Use surge protectors if multiple outlets are needed and do not insert more than two plugs into one outlet. Never force a three-pronged plug into a two-pronged outlet or extension cord.

 

Cooking — and frying a turkey

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I couldn’t be any more excited and ready!

According to the NFPA,

• Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
• In 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the peak day for such fires.
• Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.
• Cooking equipment was involved in almost half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries, and it is the second leading cause of home fire deaths.

Safety Cooking Tips

• Never take your eyes off the stove when cooking. ( especially when there are little kids around)
• Never leave the house unattended when cooking the turkey. To be honest, never leave it when cooking anything.
• Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay at least 3 feet away.
• Keep the floor in the kitchen clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, or even animals.
• Keep knives out of the reach of children.
• Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
• Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children
• Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle.
• Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button. (or just let your mother cook)

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