Northwest NEWS

December 13, 1999

Home & Garden

Safer holiday entertaining

Whether you are stuffing yourself with turkey, delighting in the neighborhood light show, or enjoying the company of family and friends, chances are you will be entertaining or attending some holiday festivities this season.

   Although entertaining can be fun, it can also pose certain safety risks. That is why it is important to protect yourself and your family from devastating, though preventable, fires, electric shock, and other injuries that can occur in the home.

   The holiday season is synonymous with family togetherness, and with togetherness comes holiday entertaining. Although it is easy to become absorbed in the excitement that accompanies entertaining, it is important to always keep safety in mind. Underwriters Laboratory and the National Fire Protection Association offer these fire safety tips to follow while entertaining and cooking during the holiday and any time of the year.

   Turn off and unplug all appliances when not in use. Periodically check on food being cooked in an oven, microwave, or on the stove.

   Use caution when using electrical appliances. Never plug more than one high-wattage appliance into a single outlet. Check appliances for frayed or cracked cords and make sure to have them repaired by a professional technician if needed. Never stand in or near water when using electrical appliances.

   Keep young children at least 3 feet away from kitchen appliances when cooking. If you allow older children to cook, supervise them closely and teach them safe cooking practices.

   Dress appropriately for cooking. Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves and use caution when working near heat sources. Have plenty of fire-resistant potholders and oven mitts ready for use while cooking.

   Turn handles inward so pots and pans won't be pulled or knocked off the stove. Keep the stovetop clean and clear. Store combustible materials away from heat sources.

   Save operating instructions for rarely-used appliances and reread them before each use.

   Candles add a cozy touch to your home during the holidays, but if you're not careful, they can be a serious fire hazard, as well. According to the NFPA, candles cause an average of 7,590 home fires each year. Follow these fire prevention tips from UL and the NFPA to help keep your family safe from the dangers of candles.

   Be sure to place candles in sturdy, non-combustible holders, and keep them well away from decorations and other combustible materials. Check candles frequently to make sure they don't burn down too far.

   Don't leave children unattended in a room with lit candles, and always keep candles, as well as matches and lighters, up high and out of the reach of children.

   Don't display lit candles in windows or near exits in case you need these to escape.

   Under no circumstances is it safe to use lit candles to decorate Christmas trees!

   For additional safety tip information, visit the NFPA's website at, UL's website at, or call UL's fax-on-demand hotline at 1-800-473-4766.