The holidays are a delightful time of year filled with magical lights, festive decorations, celebrations and events with family and friends. But did you know that you and your family are at a greater risk of personal injury in the winter season when displaying decorations, cooking holiday meals, and using unsafe heating sources? Residential fires cause more damage, are more costly, and cause more personal injuries and death during the holiday season than at any other time of year. In fact according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), when holiday fires occur, they cause more damage, up to 34%, more than in an average fire. The number of fatalities rises as well; 70% more deaths per thousand fires.
To prevent your family and home from becoming a winter fire statistic, follow these fire safety tips:
Your holiday celebration wouldn’t be complete without a feast, but according to the ASFA, cooking mishaps are the leading cause of winter home fires, so if your entertaining involves cooking and baking, be sure to take precautions against kitchen fires. Keep children, pets and flammable items such as kitchen towels and grocery bags away from the stovetop and oven, and clean up any greasy spills as you cook, to remove fire hazards. Leaving food unattended is generally the culprit of kitchen fires, and often results in a trip to an urgent care facility.
While it’s easy to get distracted, pay attention to food left on a heat source by setting a timer, or bring a pot holder with you if you leave the room. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher nearby and check your smoke detectors to ensure they are working
It’s hard to believe that old-fashioned Christmas celebrations used to feature wax candles attached to live tree branches – on trees inside the home! Of course, we know better than that now, but even with all our safety improvements, it still takes less than 30 seconds for flames to engulf a live tree, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
To minimize the risk of fire, display an artificial tree, which doesn’t pose much of a fire hazard as long as it is flame-retardant, or purchase a freshly-cut tree with intact needles, and water it every day. It is almost impossible to ignite a well-watered tree. Keep your tree, live garlands and other greenery a safe distance from heat sources such as your radiator or fireplace, and out of foot traffic’s way. Place them at least three feet away from a heat source. Don’t plug more than three strings of lights together, and opt for a power strip for multiple strands. Always unplug holiday lights before you leave the house or go to sleep.
There’s nothing that instills the holiday spirit more than flickering candle light. But, that mesmerizing display has risks. Candle fires occur at four times the rate in December than they happen throughout the rest of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. December 2013 fire incidents resulted in $374 million in property damage. 827 injuries and 86 deaths due to unattended flames. To reduce the possibility of a fire hazard, keep candles at least a foot away from anything heat-reactant, and at least three feet from flammable materials such as curtains and holiday decorations. Don't allow children to play with lit candles or matches, and seek medical care immediately if an injury occurs. Place candles on a sturdy base or cover with a hurricane globe, and never leave a candle unattended. Before you go to bed, make sure all candles are extinguished.
Nothing takes the chill off a winter evening quite like the light and heat of a fire on your hearth, and many people like to place their Christmas tree right next to the crackling flames. While it might look beautiful, it’s a big mistake. Keep your tree and presents at least three feet from your fireplace. And, while it’s tempting to watch an open flickering display, resist the urge. Always use your fireplace screen, and have your chimney inspected before fireplace season begins. Don’t dispose of wrapping paper by tossing it onto the fire; only burn seasoned wood, and ensure all embers are completely extinguished before you go to bed.
For more information about how to treat home injuries during the holidays, contact your Cumming, Georgia, and Forsythe County urgent care providers at PrimeCare UrgentCare today.