Holiday season fire safety tips
from the U.S. Fire Administration
WASHINGTON, D.C.--A candle-lit Christmas tree at grandmother's house may be a thing of the past, but fire hazards still loom in American homes, ready to turn this season's joy into holiday tragedy. That's the word from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA).
"Residential fires are 14 percent more likely to happen during the holiday season and nearly 30 percent more likely to cause death," USFA Administrator Carrye Brown said. "We want everyone to know how tragic and needless this is, how simple precautions and common sense can prevent a family tragedy during what otherwise should be a happy time of year."
Among household safety tips to help combat holiday fire hazards, Brown offered these:
For more fire safety information:
- Decorate Christmas trees with consumer-inspected lights and double-check for frayed wires. Don't overload electric outlets. Check the power capacity of your house and stay within wattage limits.
- Keep presents away from the tree lights. Keep the tree well-watered, as dry trees burn explosively. Do not place the tree near a fireplace or an exit.
- Do not burn gift wrappings in the fireplace, as this can cause a chimney fire.
- If you use candles, place them in a safe place away from any flammable material. Be sure all children know the dangers of candles, chafing dishes, potpourri scent pots, the fireplace, and space heaters.
- Keep clutter away from the stove while cooking. If grease catches fire, do not throw water on it. Cover the pan with a lid. In order to avoid injury, turn pot handles in over the stove and never wear loose clothing while cooking.
- Don't leave cooking food unattended for extended periods of time, since this is the most common cause of cooking-related fires.
- Buy and install a smoke detector. If you already have one, clean and test it. A working smoke detector can double your chances of survival.
- Practice home fire drills. Designate two exits from every room, make sure all family members are aware of an outside meeting place, and get out quickly.
- Know your community's emergency telephone numbers and how to call for help.
USFA provides funding and technical assistance in support of national fire safety programs for reducing fire-related deaths and injuries.
- Contact the U.S. Fire Administration; 16825 South Seton Ave.; Emmitsburg, MD 21727.
- Visit their section on the FEMA Internet Website at http://www.usfa.fema.gov.
- Information available 24 hours a day via fax-on-demand: in the U.S.A., phone (202) 646-FEMA (646-3362).