Help your family avoid seasonal dangers with these reminders
Houses glowing with colored lights. Warm rooms filled with cheer. Christmas trees decked with favorite family ornaments.
“December brings holiday festivities and decorations that brighten our lives, homes and businesses. But these seasonal traditions can also increase the risk of fire and other dangers,” said Joe Bariffi, a manager on Aera’s environment, health and safety team. “There are several things people can do to be safe while enjoying those holiday traditions.”
Bariffi offers several tips for a happy and safe holiday:
- A Christmas tree fire can turn deadly in seconds. A dry tree can catch fire and burn faster than newspaper, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Be sure to water your tree daily. Place your tree at least 10 feet from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents. Also, make sure your tree doesn’t block exits.
- Remain vigilant with lighting. One of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Read manufacturer instructions for the correct numbers of light strands to connect. Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Keep a close eye on candles. More than half of the home decoration fires in December are started by candles. The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that burns.
- Take care with space heaters. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires, which are the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries, NFPA says. Space heaters are most often involved in home heating-equipment fires. Make sure your heater has a thermostat and overheat protection as well as an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over. Avoid placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress or bedding.
- Don’t drink and drive. In the U.S. over the past five years, an average of 300 people died in drunk-driving crashes during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, says the U.S. Department of Transportation. Reduce the toll of drunk driving this holiday season. Never drink and drive. Plan a safe ride with a designated sober driver. Use Uber or Lyft, or call a taxi or a friend, to pick you up if you’ve been drinking.