Public service announcement: holiday fire safety
Facts about home holiday fires
- One of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems.
- Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. On average, one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.
- A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every six of Christmas tree fires.
- More than half (56 percent) of home candle fires occur when something that can catch on fire is too close to the candle.
- December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 11 percent of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4 percent the rest of the year.
Summertime Fire Safety
- Before using a grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line. Make sure the venturi tubes – where the air and gas mix – are not blocked.
- Do not overfill the propane tank.
- Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a barbecue.
- Be careful when using lighter fluid. Do not add fluid to an already lit fire because the flame can flashback up into the container and explode.
- Keep all matches and lighters away from children. Teach your children to report any loose matches or lighters to an adult immediately. Supervise children around outdoor grills.
- Dispose of hot coals properly – douse them with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers.
- Never grill/barbecue in enclosed areas – carbon monoxide could be produced.
- Make sure everyone knows to Stop, Drop and Roll in case a piece of clothing does catch fire. Call 911 or your local emergency number if a burn warrants serious medical attention.
- Build campfires where they will not spread, away from dry grass and leaves.
- Keep campfires small, and don’t let them get out of hand.
- Keep plenty of water and a shovel around to douse the fire when you’re done. Stir it and douse it again with water.
- Never leave campfires unattended.
Halloween is a fun holiday but it’s also an important time to practice fire safety. The occurrence of fire increases around Halloween due to arson and the use of candles as decorations. Follow these tips for a happy and fire-safe Halloween:
- If you buy a costume, make sure the label says “Flame Resistant.” Flame Resistantmeans the costume will be hard to catch on fire and if it does, the fire will go out fast.
- If you make a costume, try not to make one that is big and baggy so that the material doesn’t touch candles or other flames. Use flame-resistant fabrics, such as polyester and nylon. These materials will resist burning if exposed to a flame.
- Tell kids to stay away from candles and jack-o’-lanterns that may be on steps and porches. Their costumes could catch fire if they get too close.
- Kids should never carry candles when they are trick-or-treating. Always use a flashlight, flameless candle, or light stick.
- Tell kids to let you know right away if they see other kids playing with matches or lighters.
- Don’t use candles for decorations. They’re dangerous, especially when left unattended.
- Use only decorative lights tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw away damaged sets. Don’t overload extension cords.
- Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website for the latest on Halloween-related consumer product recalls.
- If you have a Halloween party, check for cigarettes under furniture cushions and in areas where people were smoking before you go to bed.
- Remove any materials around your home or property, such as garbage or excess vegetation, which an arsonist could use to start a fire.
Winter Fire Safety
These free materials are yours to use when educating citizens about winter home fire safety. People are at greater risk in the winter season when they cook holiday meals, display decorations, and may use unsafe heat sources. You can help prevent winter weather-related home fires in your community with these safety tips, social media messages, public service announcements, widgets, website banners and publicationsdeveloped by USFA and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Statistics to share
The threat of winter fires is real. Use these statistics to help citizens understand the severity and prevalence of winter fires.
- 905 people die in winter home fires each year.
- $2,091,000,000 in property loss occurs from winter home fires.
- 67 percent of winter fires occur in one- and two-family homes.
- Cooking is the leading cause of all winter home fires.
- 5 to 8 p.m. is the most common time for winter home fires.
Source: National Fire Incident Reporting System 2009-2011
- Winter Fires: Safety Tips for the Home (order or download)
Look for everyday opportunities to encourage safety and help citizens prevent winter fires. Follow the links for specific safety tips that are easy to share on social media or during outreach events.
- Remind residents about safe heating with space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces.
- Prepare to make the next winter storm safe for everyone.
- Inform residents about the dangers of carbon monoxide.
- Make homes safe from electrical fires.
- Suggest ways to safely cook indoors.
- Encourage safe holiday decoration displays, including candles.
Some Types of Fire Related Hazards Present During Tornado or Hurricane Season
- Leaking gas lines, damaged or leaking gas propane containers, and leaking vehicle gas tanks may explode or ignite.
- Debris can easily ignite, especially if electrical wires are severed.
- Pools of water and even appliances can be electrically charged.
- Generators are often used during power outages. Generators that are not properly used and maintained can be very hazardous.
- Alternative heating devices used incorrectly create fire hazards. Proper use and maintenance can decrease the possibility of a fire.
- Appliances that emit smoke or sparks should be repaired or replaced.