Did you know that more home fires occur on Christmas day than any other day of the year besides Thanksgiving? It’s because of this reason that fire officials are emphasizing fire safety for this time of the year. “Start by making sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms,” says Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. “Fires are always terrible, but they seem worse during the festive holiday season,” he says. Coan went on to offer more safety tips to keep your holiday celebrations safe and fire free.
The first thing that Coan notes is that cooking is the leading cause of house fires during the holiday season. “Cooking is the leading cause of fires in the home, and the holiday season is no exception,” says Coan. The biggest fire risk from cooking is leaving pans and pots unattended on the stove. “Leaving cooking unattended, even for a minute, is the leading cause of fires,” says Coan, “Cooking is the leading cause of home fires throughout the year, and caused two-thirds of all the residential fires last holiday season.” To remedy this, Coan advocates always standing by your pan to prevent cooking fires, and to put a lid on it if a fire does occur. Always stay nearby, and use a timer when baking.
The second biggest fire risk during the holiday season is heating. “Keep warm and keep safe by having the furnace and chimney checked by professionals and when heating with wood, dispose of the ashes in a lidded metal ashcan outside the home,” advises Coan. A single ember from a fireplace can stay hot an undetected for days, posing a major fire risk.
Candles are also a big fire hazard during the holiday season. “Many of the holidays celebrated at this time of year use candles. Sadly, the increased candle use at this time of year causes a boost in candle fires.” Candle related fires most commonly occur on Christmas eve, Christmas day, and New Year’s eve. December is the peak time of year for candle related fires. In December, 11 percent of home candle fires began with holiday decorations, compared to 4 percent the rest of the year. More than half of home candle fires occur when something that can catch fire is placed too close to the candle.To prevent candle fires, always burn candles inside a 1-foot circle of safety.
Unfortunately, Christmas trees can also pose a fire hazard. Though Christmas tree fires are less common, if a christmas tree fire occurs it is more likely to be serious. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, on average one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires results in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires. One of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems, and one in every six Christmas tree fires occurs when a heat source is too close to the tree. Keep these facts in mind when decorating and celebrating during this holiday season. Don’t let a safety oversight put a damper on the otherwise joyful season.