How to stay safe from common causes of fire damage during the holidays season
Blog Summary: SERVPRO® of Northeast Fort Worth wants every family to have a joyful holiday season. The damage restoration company is sharing home fire safety tips to help keep the holidays free from a fire damage disaster.
The fire and water damage restoration professionals at SERVPRO of Northeast Fort Worth want everyone to enjoy the upcoming holidays with their family and friends safely. During the holidays, the risk of home fires increases. Below are some very important home fire safety tips to ensure safe, fire-free, happy holidays!
By following these basic fire prevention tips, homeowners can significantly reduce the risk of fire hazards during the holidays.
Tips to avoid Christmas tree fires
A live Christmas tree fills the home with a fresh, clean pine fragrance that lets everyone know the holidays have arrived. A live tree can be a safe, memorable feature of the holiday season if the homeowner carefully follows special precautions. If a live Christmas tree ignites, the flames can quickly spread, filling the home with smoke, soot, and harmful gases.
Fire prevention begins with picking a freshly cut tree
Begin by selecting a fresh tree. Look for a tree with green needles. The needles should be difficult to pull back from the branches. Needles on a fresh tree will not easily break, indicating there is still moisture in the tree. Inspect the tree trunk. Flowing sap should make it sticky to the touch. Test the freshness of the tree by bumping the trunk on the ground. If the tree drops a shower of needles, it has dried out and is a serious fire hazard. Continue to sort through the available trees until a fresh tree is identified.
Practice proper tree care
Position the tree at a safe distance from heat sources such as the fireplace, heat vent, gas, or electric heater. The heat and low humidity can quickly dry out the moisture in the tree, and dry trees can ignite very quickly when exposed to sparks, heat, or flames. Keep smokers and ashtrays away from the Christmas tree.
There are two extremes to avoid when displaying a live tree. Avoid putting the tree up too early. Two weeks is a safe window in which to enjoy a live tree. Faithfully fill the water reservoir on the tree stand. Live trees, even though they have been cut, will still uptake water through the trunk as long as the reservoir is filled.
Exercise proper care when disposing of the Christmas tree
Disposing of the tree by burning the needles and branches in the fireplace or wood-burning stove is not advised. When the tree displays signs that it has dried out, immediately discard it by taking it to a recycling center. Some communities will remove trees placed by the curbside. Know what the regulations are for the municipality to avoid a fine for littering.
Bonus tip: If this year’s tree selection is an artificial tree, make sure the item is non-flammable or, at the very least, flame retardant.
Tips to prevent a fire from holiday lights
Proper maintenance can keep holiday lights bright and fire-safe. Begin each holiday season by closely inspecting each string of lights. Look for the following issues:
- brittle, cracking, or unpliable plastic insulation
- frayed wiring
- cracked, crushed, or otherwise damaged male or female plugs
- exposed or bare spots on the cords
- cracked or broken light sockets
- excessive kinking or severe crimps that might signal damaged wiring or a possible short
If the lights are not UL-approved, do not use them.
Avoid overloading electrical outlets or power strips
Three is the maximum number of light strings that should be linked together unless otherwise stated in the product specifications. When stringing lights, the last step is to connect the lights either directly or by an extension cord to the outlet. Working with live lights increases the risk of shock, especially if precipitation is falling or the ground is wet. Every few days, give the lights a visual inspection and touch test. The outlet, plug, and wiring should not be warm to the touch; warmth may indicate a circuit overload or damaged wiring.
Practice extreme caution when displaying seasonal decorations
Non-Flammable or flame-retardant decorations are far safer than combustible decorations. Position the decorations at least three to six feet (or more) away from heat sources. Never leave decorations unattended if they are anywhere close to a heat source.
Bonus tip: Avoid burning wrapping paper in the fireplace or wood stove. The large flames, high heat, and excessive ember and spark production can cause a chimney fire.
Be careful with candles
Avoid the use of lighted candles. Place candles in a safe, stable location, away from combustible materials, especially Christmas trees. Extinguish all lit candles when leaving home.
Fire detection and suppression
Install smoke alarms with fresh batteries on all levels of the home. Test existing devices every month and change the batteries every July 4th to ensure batteries are fresh at Christmas when the fire risk is elevated. Review and practice the fire escape plan. Place a fully charged fire extinguisher in the kitchen, by the fireplace or wood stove, and strategically on every level of the home. Accessibility is the key to survival.
Pre-qualify with SERVPRO of Northeast Fort Worth before the holiday season arrives. If a fire damage disaster strikes, one call has a crew on the scene in about an hour, 24/7, 365 days a year, including on holidays and Christmas.
For more information about residential fire and water damage restoration, call SERVPRO of Northeast Fort Worth at (817) 741-5737 or email office@SERVPROnortheastftworth.com.