As we approach the holidays, you may be looking forward to family gatherings, dinners with friends, and special celebrations. If your holidays include having a cozy fire in the fireplace, candles on the table, twinkle lights on the tree, or extra space heaters around the house to warm things up, you're not alone. For many of us, these are essential to the holiday spirit. But they can also be fire hazards.
Nearly 156,000 fires occur during the winter holidays season, causing 630 deaths, 2,600 injuries, and approximately $936 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Here are the four main holiday fire hazards, and how to avoid them:
- Property dispose of fireplace ashes. Place them in a metal container, wet them down, and move them outside until there are no more hot spots.
- Get your chimney inspected and cleaned before the holidays.
- Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they're working well.
- Never leave candles unattended or place them in high-traffic areas.
- Leave a two-foot circle of safety around them. Don't light them close to trees or decorations.
- Don't overload extension cords or use indoor extension cords outside.
- Don't run extension cords under rugs, as they can fray or be pinched by heavy furniture.
- Plug outdoor lights into ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to prevent electric shocks.
- Inspect all lights and cords before using them; replace old lights every few years.
- Turn off lights when you're away from home and before going to sleep.
- Never leave space heaters unattended or near anything flammable.
- Check the circuit you plan to use, to make sure it can handle the added demand of a space heater.
- Don't remove the third-prong grounding feature - and always plug them into GFCIs for added safety.