News Releases

December 09, 2009

How to Keep Your Family Safe This Holiday Season

Every year, Vermont’s firefighters respond to tragic incidents where people suffer injuries, burns, and even death due to carelessness with holiday decorations. Trees, lights, ornaments, and fireplaces and wood stoves produce extra hazards in your home at a time when hectic activity distracts your attention from fire safety.

Here are a-few safety tips from the Vermont Division of Fire Safety and your local emergency responders to ensure that we will not make an unplanned visit to your home this holiday season:

Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be a priority at any time of year. Take an extra minute to ensure all your home fire safety devices are prepared for the holidays. Clean and test your smoke alarm and make sure that everyone in your home (including gusts) knows how to escape if a fire occurs. Assign an adult to help very young, elderly or anyone else who needs help getting out. Choose a safe meeting place outside and plan to call the fire department from the neighbor’s.

Make sure your natural tree is a fresh one. Fresh needles won't break when you bend them. Once you get your fresh tree home, cut off one to two inches of the trunk and place it in a stable holder. Keep your tree away from any sources of heat such as the fireplace, heaters and candles. A dry tree can be a serious fire hazard, so water yours daily. When the holidays are over, remove the tree from your home as quickly as possible. Use only flame-proof decorations, and check the wiring on all your electrical decorations before you put them up. Avoid using extension cords to run your electrical decorations. Make sure your electrical decorations are tested by an independent testing laboratory like UL.

Candles are a traditional and beautiful part of the holiday season. However, candles are an extreme fire hazard and are becoming a leading cause of home fires. If you use candles, Keep candles away from things that can catch fire, such as clothing, books, paper, curtains or decorations. Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep. Never put candles in windows or near doorways where drafts could bring flammable materials in contact with the open flame. Avoid using candles for light sources during power outages. And always stay in the room where candles are being burned.

An additional cause of home fires during the holidays is cooking. It’s important to keep a close eye on your cooking. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the stove and remove the pot from the burner. If a pot does catch fire, carefully slide a lid over it to smother the flames, turn off the stove. Many fires are caused by people attempting to cook or smoke while under the influence of alcohol. Keep an extra eye on friends and family members who smoke. Make sure that ashes and lit cigarettes don't fall onto chairs, gifts, or wrapping paper. Don't empty cigarette ashtrays into the trash.

As we enter into the colder months of the year, typically November through February, heating related safety is of utmost concern. Numerous fires and fire deaths occur during the winter months and many of these fires are often related to inadequately maintained heating systems or the improper use of heating equipment.

Keep things that burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, Use fireplaces, woodstoves, heaters and furnaces properly and carefully, Get furnaces wood stoves and chimneys inspected once a year and cleaned or repaired if needed, Closely watch children and pets in rooms with heating equipment, and keep them safely away, Turn off portable space heaters when you get ready to sleep or if you leave the room.

Have a Happy and Fire Safe Holiday Season.

For more information on this or other safety issues, please contact your local fire department or The State of Vermont Division of Fire Safety at 800- 640-2106 or log on to www.vtfiresafety.org .

Source: Division of Fire Safety
Last Updated at: December 09, 2009 07:54:09