Holiday Fire Safety
As we enter the holiday season, many people will engage in holiday festivities, shopping and sharing tidings of joy. The Baltimore City Fire Department would like to remind people to practice Fire Safety during the holidays.
Each year fires occur during the holiday season injure approximately 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage. The Baltimore City Fire Department would like to share basic life-saving steps you can take, to ensure a safe holiday season. By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.
Preventing Holiday Tree Fires
- Holiday Tree Fire Hazards - Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases within minutes.
- Selecting a tree for the holiday - Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out and is a fire hazard.
- Caring for Your Tree - Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
- Maintain Your Holiday Lights - Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
- Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets - Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not be warm to the touch.
- Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on Unattended
- Use only non-flammable Decorations - All decorations should be non-flammable or flame retardant and placed away from heat vents.
- Never Place Wrapping Paper in the Fireplace - It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.
- Artificial Holiday Trees - If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure that it is flame retardant.
- Avoid Using Lit Candles - If you do use them, make sure that they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
- Never Put Lit Candles On a Tree - Do not go near a holiday tree with an open flame - candles, lighters or matches.
Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.