At Project X Restoration in Denver, we know the holidays are wonderful, but also it’s the most dangerous time of the year, particularly for household fires. We thought it would be a good time to share some tips to reduce your risk. Residential fires during the holidays are more costly, more frequent, and more deadly than any other time of the year. On Christmas day, there are twice as many open flame fires than on average. New Year’s Day also has double the average number of open flame fires.
Additionally, these fires tend to cause more damage. On a holiday, property loss is, on average, 34% more than it is on a regular day and the number of fatalities per thousand fires is almost 70% higher. If a Christmas tree is the source of a house fire, the percentage climbs even higher for loss of life and property. When it’s the most dangerous time of the year, you can keep your family from being a holiday fire statistic by following the safety rules and tips we here at Project X Restoration in Denver have put together for you.
The top cause of holiday fires is actually cooking and one of the most common culprits is cooking food that has been left unattended in the kitchen. The holidays have so many distractions that it is especially easy to forget you have something on the stove. One way to avoid forgetting your food is to set a timer, even if it is only set for a minute. Another way to remember is to carry a potholder with you as a reminder.
Also, be sure to have an extinguisher in your kitchen just in case a fire breaks out on the stove. It should be rated for all fire types. Additionally, check to ensure your smoke detectors are functional and if you are planning to deep fry a turkey outside, be sure to have your fire extinguisher ready. Also, to avoid a fire, keep your outdoor fryer on a flat, level surface that is more than 10 feet from the house. This can help you avoid potential trouble.
The occurrence of candle fires is four times higher in December than it is in other months. The top, most dangerous days for candle fires are Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Halloween. To improve safety, keep the candles at least a foot away from anything flammable. Candles should either be set on a sturdy base or should be covered with hurricane glass. Consider using both for added home fire prevention.
Additionally, candles flames should never be left unattended to avoid any possibility of a fire. Making sure all candles are thoroughly extinguished at the end of the day’s festivities will also help. You could even consider LED flameless candles to entirely avoid the issue.
Another reason why it’s the most dangerous time of the year is that it can take as little as 30 seconds for a dry Christmas tree to catch fire and spread through a room. Christmas trees, particularly pine, are incredibly flammable. Some people don’t realize that turpentine (a highly flammable paint remover) is made from pine trees. To reduce your risk, keep your tree well-watered and keep heat sources, such as fireplaces and heaters, away from it. Also, keep your tree more than 3 feet away from any of your home’s heat sources.
These actions will minimize how quickly your tree dries out. Additionally, try to buy a very fresh tree which will prolong the time you have before it becomes very dry. In general, your tree will begin to dry out, regardless of conditions, after about 4 weeks. Taking it down after the holidays will minimize the risk of a fire. If you purchase an artificial tree, they usually are not much of a fire hazard, especially if you purchase a flame retardant one.
If you have Christmas lights that have become frayed or that have cracked wires or broken sockets, it would be best to throw them out to avoid having them catch on fire. Additionally, when decorating your home, it is much safer to only string 3 strands of lights together, end-to-end.
To further minimize your fire risk, be sure all of your extension cords are in good condition before you use them and be sure they are UL-rated for indoor or outdoor use, as is appropriate. If your ground fault interrupter is repeatedly tripped, it is a sign that your lights may need to be replaced. Not replacing them could increase your risk of a fire.
To protect your outdoor lights, use UL-rated hangers or clips instead of using nails or staples. Also, take down your lights within 90 days to keep them in better condition. Leaving your lights up year round exposes them to weather damage and may allow the wiring to become frayed. Pests, such as squirrels, could also chew your lights if they are kept out.
Kids and Matches Don’t Mix
The number of blazes caused by children also contributes to the holiday statistics and further proves it’s the most dangerous time of the year. There are a number of deaths caused by children playing with fire as well, so keeping matches and lighters out of the hands of children can be important to your family’s safety.
To keep your chimney from causing a house fire, be sure that it’s inspected and cleaned before you begin using it for the season. Additionally, be sure to use a fireplace screen to keep embers from landing on your floor or carpet. Avoid using flammable liquids to start a fire because the liquid can drip allowing the fire to spread quickly. Also, avoid burning materials that can create an additional fire hazard, like wrapping paper.
Even though it’s the most dangerous time of the year, you can keep your family and home safe from a potential fire. If you do experience a home fire, we here at Project X Restoration in Denver are here for you with 24/7 emergency response. We’ll help repair the damage and get your home back to its pre-fire condition.