A shimmering tree, the glow of candles, and a warm burning fireplace, we are all getting ready for the holidays. The season is upon us and it can also be a dangerous time of the year for fires.
White Lake Township Fire Chief, Tony Maltese is urging homeowners to be cautious with fire hazards in their homes during this festive season.
According to the Nation Fire Protection Association, every year, fires caused by chimney fires, Christmas tree lights, candles, and cooking cause millions of dollars in damage to homes and are responsible for numerous deaths and injuries.
Christmas tree fires account on average cause 13 deaths, 27 injuries and over $16 million in property damage each year according to NFPA’s statistics.
Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and chimneys caused nearly 27,000 residential fires, resulting in 10 deaths and over $100 million in damages.
Candles are extremely dangerous. Their open flame only need come in contact with anything combustible to start a free burning fire. Almost 13,000 home fires are caused each year by candles. These fires added up to over 1,000 injuries and 136 deaths.
Last, but not least, is the kitchen fire during the holidays. Fires occur here more than any other place in the home.
We want everyone to enjoy their holidays in a safe manner by gaining an understanding of the potential hazards of this special time. Any firefighter will tell you their number one job is to try and prevent fires before they occur. We encourage residents to practice good fire safety during the holiday season by paying attention to these basic safety tips.
- Christmas Trees: get a fresh cut tree or better yet, cut one yourself, then you know it is fresh. Give it plenty of water and if it gets too dry and starts to shed needles, get it out of your house.
- Fireplaces: At the beginning of the cold weather season, have a professional inspect your chimney and, if necessary, have it serviced and cleaned. Burn appropriate material for you fire box and always have a screen in place to prevent embers from escaping.
- Candles: Don’t use candles unless you absolutely cannot do without them. If you use them, have them in a sturdy holder that will not tip over. Keep them at a distance from the Christmas tree, wrapping paper, other displays, curtains and any combustibles. Keep them away from children or people who are partaking in alcoholic beverages. Make sure all candles are extinguished long before you get too tired and certainly before retiring for the night. A safer choice is replacing your candles with the newer flameless battery-powered ones that are available.
- Cooking: Practice good kitchen safety and watch what you heat. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you're cooking. Stay alert! To prevent cooking fires, you have to be alert. You won't be if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy. Keep anything that can catch fire - potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains - away from your stovetop. Keep a small ABC all-purpose fire extinguisher near the cooking area.
- Lighting: Be careful with extension cords and don’t overload outlets. Unplug all decorative lights before leaving home or going to bed.
The men and women of the White Lake Township Fire Department want everyone to enjoy the festivities, but be vigilant about safety. We wish you and yours a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.
(Source: Fire Chief Tony Maltese)