Even though the majority of residential building fires throughout the year are caused by cooking, the winter holidays introduce some extra fire hazards into the home. According to the American Red Cross, there are about 47,000 home fires during the winter holidays, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and the loss of more than 500 lives. Of course, house fires also cause serious injuries. In addition to first, second, and third-degree burns, victims may also have respiratory and other health issues due to smoke inhalation or low oxygen.
Many fires during the holiday season are caused by Christmas trees, candles, and of course cooking. The Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Association offer some tips for keeping your home and family safe from fire this season.
- Test your smoke alarms on a monthly basis. Replace the batteries as needed.
- Create a fire escape plan and practice it with your family.
- Keep flammable decorations away from heat sources. (Having a tree too close to a heat source is responsible for about 25 percent of Christmas tree fires.)
- Use candles on sturdy surfaces away from objects that could catch fire.
- Don’t use candles in bedrooms.
- Don’t burn candles when your child or pet is alone with the candle.
- Never leave a space heater running unattended. Don’t use it for a prolonged period of time.
- Keep flashlights and plenty of batteries on hand if the power goes out so you don’t have to use candles to see.
- Choose flame retardant decorations whenever possible.
- Check all electrical cords, including those used for holidays lights and space heaters, for wear and tear.
- Unplug your lights for the night or when you’re away from home.
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stove–even if you have guests!
- Keep flammable kitchen items, like towels and oven mitts, away from the stove.
Hudson Physicians reminds you that with a few precautions, you and your family can enjoy a safe, happy holiday season.