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Avoid These Holiday Fire Hazards in Your Home!

a person putting out a fire

The holidays are a great time to spend quality time with friends and family. Especially, as homeowners, we enjoy hosting our loved ones and creating a warm spirit in our homes. However, the holiday season puts many of us at increased risk of electrical fires and other accidents. As a result, the ESFI shares some general tips to avoid common holiday fire hazards.

Common Holiday Fire Hazards

From hosting to decorating, we put more pressure on our electrical demands during the holidays. For example, hosting means cooking, which likely creates pressure on all the outlets in your kitchen. Plus, decorations and holiday lighting require more electricity. And colder temperatures mean hot air blowing on decorations. All of this increases our risk of home fires.

However, with some common sense and precautions, we can reduce the holiday fire hazards in our homes.

  • Holiday Decoration Hazards

According to realtor.com and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), from 2010 to 2015, live Christmas trees caused an average of 200 home fires annually, which resulted roughly $14.8 million in property damage per year. Dry Christmas trees remain the primary cause of these fires. As a result, experts recommend keeping trees well-watered, along with keeping them away from flames and heat sources. Additionally, decorate with LED lights, which consume less electricity and generate less heat.

Additionally, watch out for candles. According to HouseLogic and the NFPA, homes fires caused by candles is 4 times higher in December. In fact, 4 of the 5 most dangerous days happen in December (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day).

"To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles."

  • Holiday Cooking Concerns

Christmas Day is the second biggest day for oven fires (behind Thanksgiving). According to realtor.com, the main culprit is greasy ovens.

"The No. 1 cause of oven fires is that grease builds up in the oven and can light up. People have a tendency to not keep them as clean as they should. The best thing to do is to keep the oven closed and call the fire department. You won't give the fire oxygen. If you open the door and hit it with a fire extinguisher, the force from the extinguisher could force the fire out onto the floor."

Additionally, fried turkeys also cause potential fire hazards.

"If you're going to fry a turkey, you really need to know what you're doing. Keep the fryer a safe distance away so no one can run into it. Measure oil levels properly. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. And, always do it outside on the grass, not on the deck, front porch, or near your cars. Also make sure the turkey is not wet or frozen. The reason: When water hits the hot oil, it spatters, which can burn people nearby. The fryer can also get knocked over and start a fire. Finally, don't store the propane for the fryer in the house."

  • Avoid Overload Outlets, Plugs & Cords

Help prevent electrical fires by checking plugs, cords and wires. Try to avoid placing cords and wires under rugs or in high traffic areas. Plus, avoid loose connections by checking the fit of the plug in the wall outlet. A poor connection between the plug and outlet can cause overheating and start a fire.

Additionally, increased electrical demand puts more pressure on the overall grid. As the average homes experiences roughly about 20 electrical surges per day, this creates some increased risk.

"These short electrical disturbances often go unnoticed. For example, light or computer screen may flicker due to a small spike. However, other volatile spikes may cause significant damage, such as a wrecked TV screen. Plus, these mini-shocks reduce the life of your appliances!"

If you have any issues or concerns with your electrical outlets, then don't hesitate and call Snappy today. We offer 24/7 service and can fix any electrical issues.

Common Home Fire Prevention Tips

In addition to common holiday fire hazards, the end of the year provides a great reminder of routine home fire prevention.

In fact, the U.S. Fire Administration reports that fires kill more than 4,000 Americans every year, while injuring about 20,000 more people. In fact, U.S. fire departments respond to nearly 2 million fires each year and 75% of fires occur in homes. As a result, please find a few fire prevention tips to keep your home and family safe all year round.

  • Check the Smoke Alarms

NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code®, requires replacing smoke alarms at least every 10 years. However, most people are unaware of this requirement. As a result, many homes rely on smoke alarms past their expiration date, which puts families at increased risk. If you don't know the age of your smoke alarm, then check the date of manufacture on the back. It is vital to check all of the smoke alarms and ensure they are replaced every 10 years.

In addition to replacing your smoke alarm every 10 years, remember that the alarm should be tested monthly and batteries should be changed annually. If you hear that chirping sound, then that is your alarm signaling you the batteries are low.

  • Check the Fire Extinguisher

In the event of a fire, many people will instinctively look for a fire extinguisher. Just like smoke alarms and CO detectors, fire extinguishers play a critical role in fire prevention. The NFPA categorizes these in the following classes of fire and a good home extinguisher is an ABC class that extinguishes all three classifications of fires, which are common in homes.

  • A - These fires involve ordinary combustibles like wood, paper and cloth.
  • B - These fires involve flammable liquids, such as oils and gasoline, and oil-based items like paints and stains.
  • C - These fires involve energized electrical equipment like wiring, circuit breakers, fuse boxes, machinery and appliances.
  • D - These fires involve combustible metals, such as magnesium.
  • K - These fires result from the combustion of cooking oils and fats, such as commercial kitchen fires.
  • Conduct Regular Inspections

Preparation is the key to success. Check all of your electronic equipment and wiring at least once a month. From electrical wiring to major home appliances, if there are any questions, the remember the Home Protection Plan offers a seasonal review and tune-up to ensure there are no electrical or heating issues.

For more general home fire prevention, then FEMA offers a complete home safety checklist, which includes details about the following topics:

Smoke Alarms

□ There is one smoke alarm on every level of the home and inside and outside each sleeping area.

□ Test and clean smoke alarms monthly.

□ Change batteries as needed.

□ Smoke alarms are less than 10 years old.

Cooking Safety

□ Cooking area is free from items that can catch fire.

□ Clean kitchen stove hood.

□ Vent stove hood to the outside.

□ Ensure pots always attended while on the stove.

Electrical & Appliance Safety

□ Do not run electrical cords under rugs.

□ Ensure cords are not frayed or cracked.

□ Use circuit-protected, multi-prong adapters for additional outlets.

□ Plug large and small appliances directly into wall outlets.

□ Clean clothes dryer lint filter and venting system routinely.

Candle Safety

□ Candles are in sturdy fire-proof containers that won't be tipped over.

□ Extinguish all candles before going to bed or leaving the room.

□ Children and pets are never left unattended with candles.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

□ Locate carbon monoxide alarms on each level of the home.

□ Carbon monoxide alarms are less than 7 years old.

Heating Safety

□ Clean and inspect chimney and furnace yearly.

□ Furniture and other items that can catch fire are at least 3 feet from fireplaces, wall heaters, baseboards, and space heaters.

□ Fireplace and barbecue ashes are placed outdoors in a covered metal container at least 3 feet from anything that can catch fire.

□ Never use extension cords with space heaters.

□ Heaters are approved by a national testing laboratory and have tip-over shut-off function.

Home Escape Plan

□ Have two ways out of each room.

□ Know to crawl low to the floor when escaping to avoid toxic smoke.

□ Know where to meet after the escape.

□ Meeting place should be near the front of your home, so firefighters know you are out.

□ Know that once you're out, stay out.

□ Practice your fire escape plan.

If you have any questions about your home electricity or anything you may think could cause a potential holiday fire hazard, please don't hesitate to contact Snappy today.