The holidays are here – time for cooler weather, cooking big meals and Christmas decorating. And with these things, come new in-home dangers. So we took the best advice from the best sources – The National Fire Protection Association, the US Fire Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Home Safety Council and the EPA – to bring you these winter weather home safety tips.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything flammable, including drapes, furniture, walls, newspapers and blankets.
- Make sure to also keep children at least three feet away from the space heater to help avoid burns.
- Do not use extension cords with space heaters.
- Keep your electric space heater out of the bathroom and anyplace else (like the kitchen sink or laundry room) where it can get hit with water, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Christmas Trees and Holiday Decorating
The National Fire Association reports that fires involving decorative lighting cause an average of 150 fires, eight civilian deaths, 14 injuries and $8.5 million in property damage annually.
- If you use an artificial tree, choose one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant. Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.
- If you have a live tree, keep it waters – a healthy tree is harder to ignite than a dry one.
- Use no more than three light sets on any single extension cord. Extension cords should be placed against the wall to avoid tripping hazards, but do not run cords under rugs.
- Turn off all lights on trees and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.
Fireplaces and Firewood
- Only use newspaper, dry kindling and all-natural or organic fire starters. Never start a fire with gasoline, kerosene, or charcoal starter.
- Do not burn wet or green (unseasoned) wood.
- Many wax and sawdust logs are made for open-hearth fireplaces only. Check your wood stove or fireplace insert operating instructions before using artificial logs.
- If you use manufactured logs, choose those made from 100% compressed sawdust.
- Build hot fires – a smoldering fire is not safe or efficient.
- To prevent harmful chemicals like carbon monoxide from being released into your home, keep the doors of your wood-burning appliance closed (unless loading or stoking the live fire).
- Regularly remove ashes into a covered metal container. Store the container outdoors on a nonflammable surface.
- Burn only seasoned hardwood – not trash, cardboard boxes or Christmas tree branches. These items burn unevenly, may contain toxins, and increase the risk of uncontrolled fires.
- Have a professional chimney sweep inspect chimneys annually for cracks, blockages and leaks and have them cleaned and repaired as needed
Kitchen and Cooking
- Stay in the kitchen while food is cooking. Most fires in the kitchen occur because food is left unattended.
- Don’t overload your cook top with too many pots and pans. Trying to cook all your dishes at once could cause grease to spill onto a range top and cause a fire.
- Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy while cooking. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on a flame-resistant oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don’t remove the lid until the food has cooled.
- When removing lids on hot pans, tilt them away from you to protect your face and hands from steam.
- If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
- Never wear loose fitting clothing when cooking. Long, open sleeves could ignite and catch fire from a gas flame or a hot burner.
- Keep smoke alarms connected while cooking.