'Tis the season for sharing home fire safety
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Increased activity in the home during the Christmas holiday season-decorating, cooking and entertaining-raises the danger level for the occurrence of an unexpected house fire, according to Hartselle firefighter Ryan Kaser.
"Our records show that the more time families spend in their homes the more fire calls we receive," Kaser said. "This should send the message that extra precautions should be taken at this time of the year to keep the home safe from fire."
"The United States Fire Administration (USFA) reports that each year fires occurring during the Christmas holiday season injure 2,600 individuals and cause $930 million in damage," he pointed out.
"It is important for us to remember that all big fires start small, and we need to be especially vigilant at this time of the year to keep them from happening." Kaser added.
According to USFA, there are several simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following these tips, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably died out, and is a fire hazard.
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up, Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate that it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires. They should be warm to the touch.
Do not leave holiday lights on unattended.
All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
If you use candles, make sure they are in stable holders. Place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
Never put lit candles on a tree.
Do not go near a holiday tree with an open flame-candles, lighters or matches.
Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home. Test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home fire escape plan.