Pandemic or not, ‘tis the season for cheer and merriment, adorning our homes with lights and candles, and in some cases celebrating the season with fireworks! According to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are more in-home fires during the weeks leading up to the New Year than any other time of the year. To ensure festivities are happy and safe, pay attention to these holiday-season fire safety tips.
Cooking and Baking
Distractions are the main cause of cooking fires. We’ve all done it—turned away from the stove while cooking—but it only takes a second for a fire to start. Take easy precautions to prevent kitchen fires. Keep combustible items like aprons and towels away from flames, (that’s just common sense.) Pay attention while cooking. Clean up greasy spills as you go. And don’t forget to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Note for investment property owners; your rental should have a smoke and Co2 (if you have any gas on site) on each level of living.
Most fire professionals advise against using a turkey fryer. If you are going to deep fry a turkey anyway, follow the fryer manufacturer’s instructions and these tips:
- Keep the fryer well away from the garage, house, and trees. Never fry a turkey on the deck.
- Keep children and pets away from your burner and the pot.
- Maintain a careful eye on the temperature.
- Do not overfill the oil, when you drop the turkey in, the oil will have no place to go except drip over the pot, this will likely cause a fire.
- Very slowly lower the turkey into the oil.
- Wear protective gloves and have a fire extinguisher handy.
- Never leave the fryer unattended, without thermostat controls, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
- Keep the propane tank as far away from the burner as the hose will allow.
- If there is a fire, call 911, immediately turn off the gas, and grab the fire extinguisher, not water.
In the U.S., candle fires lead to about 150 deaths and thousands of injuries every year. To safely burn candles:
- Place candles in a fire-safe glass container at least 12” away from combustible materials
- Trim wicks to about ¼” before lighting
- Never place a burning candle in the way of an air current
- Use flashlights (not candles) during power outages
- Place candle on a non-flammable surface
- Discard candles once burned down to 2” in height
- Keep lit candles at least 3” apart
Christmas Trees and Menorahs
Christmas Trees: The annual debate goes on: real or artificial Christmas tree. According to a survey conducted by the American Christmas Tree Association, U.S. consumers overwhelmingly (81 percent) prefer artificial trees. Whatever your decorating preference, when installing a live tree, make sure it is fresh and keep it watered. Dry needles are an instant fire hazard and burn more quickly than a well-watered tree.
For artificial trees, buy a non-flammable or fire-retardant tree. And don’t use electric lights on a metal tree. For either, keep the tree away from fireplaces, radiators, and other sources of heat and don’t place the tree blocking an exit.
Before you start stringing up the lights, check all strands and discard any strands with exposed wires or faulty bulbs that might cause a spark. When stringing together strands, limit yourself to three strands per extension cord.
Menorahs: consider electric menorahs, but if you opt for traditional candles you can still celebrate Hanukkah in a fire smart way. Keep flammable items at least 3 feet away from your candles and place your menorah on a non-flammable surface to catch the melting candle wax, such as a tray lined with aluminum foil. Never leave lit candles unattended.
So many New Year celebrations now include fireworks. While New Hampshire allows for the purchase of fireworks, not all towns have the same fireworks rules. Towns like Rye, Portsmouth, Greenland, and Hampton Falls require a permit to use fireworks, while Hampton and North Hampton prohibit private firework displays.
If you’ll be setting off fireworks this holiday season, choose a location away from people, houses, trees, and flammable material. Be sure your guests, children, and pets, stay well back and be equipped with a supply of water or fire extinguisher nearby.
Before you head outdoors to decorate, make sure decorations are approved for outdoor use by a nationally recognized certification organization such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL). This applies to animated displays, lights, and extension cords.
Securely fasten lights to your home or trees with insulated hooks, tacks, or nails, never select the uninsulated option to hold light cords in place, this could result in electrocution or fire hazard.
And let’s talk about ladder safety for a moment. Set the ladder up on stable, level ground. Don't climb higher than the fourth rung from the top. Use wood or fiberglass—not aluminum—ladders anywhere near power lines, and have your hands free to ascend or descend.
To be fire-smart during the holidays, refer to these tips, most are good judgment, but are worth the reminder. Need help adorning your home for the holiday? Please email Rising Tide Realty Property Manager, Anthony Sillitta at email@example.com or visit www.maddenre.com