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5 Home Fire Safety Tips for the Holidays

With the holidays amongst us, we are faced with feelings of joy, happiness, and excitement. However, many families are met with the unfortunate event of a fire during the holidays. Big or small, a fire can lead to costly services and a strenuous process during the mitigation and restoration process. Damages from a fire, smoke and odor to your household or other personal property and structures like personal content, detached garages and sheds can lead to long financial effects, especially if you are underinsured or uninsured. Worse than property damage, fires can even lead to more devastating consequences like long term mental and health effects from severe injury and/or the loss of a loved one.   

Fires are classified categorically as protein or electrical fires. The classification of any fire is dependent on the source of the fire. Most common causes of fires include improper or faulty wiring, the use of candles, improper care of appliances and use of electric heaters, cooking mishaps and Christmas trees can be the direct result of negligence, recklessness or accidents. In the event of a fire, it’s important that everyone in the household knows the location of and proper use of a fire extinguisher and understand a clear an concise plan for evacuating the home.  

In most cases however, fires are preventable with proper care and attention to detail, while family safety and chances of survival from a fire are increased with planning and education. To protect your family and home from disaster this holiday season and the cold winter months ahead, follow these major fire safety precautions and tips.  

1. Electrical Safety

Many people participate in the tradition of setting beautiful displays and hanging lights in and around their home in an effort to show their holiday spirit. While this can be a fun way to celebrate the holidays, it’s important to acknowledge safety precautions to avoid electrical fires:  

  • Always follow the different manufactures instructions and warnings labeled when using their products  
  • A common item used during the holidays are extension cords. Be careful not to overload any extension cords or power strips. Overloads create excessive heat to the units, causing melting or sparking, which can cause electric shortages, electric-shock and fires 
  • Avoid using multiple adapters for outlets or connecting extension cords to adapters, power strips or other extension cords 
  • Also be sure to inspect chords and wires for damages like loose or frayed ends, exposed wires or nicks in the insulation 
  • Never try to connect displays or lights by re-wiring or wiring them together 

Any lighting display, string of lights or extensions chords that show any signs of wear or any other defective characteristic should be repaired properly or disposed of if non repairable. DO NOT RISK using faulty or damaged electrical units or wires!  

2. Candle Safety

Candles are just one of many wonderful ways to celebrate the holidays. By placing them around the home like on dining room tables, window sills and bedrooms, we create a cozy and secure atmosphere. Using candles in the home can be a very enjoyable and therapeutic experience when used responsibly. Follow these tips to avoid fires from a candle:  

  • Try cutting the lengths of the wick slightly to avoid excessively high flames  
  • Never place candles close to flammable objects like table displays, wreaths, plants, trees or even drapes when placing candles on a window sill
  • Never leave a candle unattended in other rooms or when leaving the house 
  • Carefully light candles using matches, a grill lighter with extended end or even an uncooked piece of spaghetti to avoid burning yourself or items near the candle 
  • Always place candles on an even surface and avoid moving any candle while it is lit or before it has cooled down from previously being lit.

Who doesn’t enjoy the holiday nostalgia brought by the light, warm scent of apple cinnamon, or pumpkin pie or spruce in the air?  

 3. Appliances, (Dryers, and Heaters)

Appliances like dryers and space heaters are all too often neglected and aren’t respected with the proper care and maintenance they deserve in order to function properly, and avoiding high energy costs. These appliances are also a leading cause for fires during the colder months and holidays. Follow these tips to save on costs and prevent contributing to a fire: 

  • Since lint is extremely flammable, always clean dryer vents well, preferably after each use and ensure that loose lint isn’t present anywhere in or around your dryer. 
  •  It’s also highly recommended to use a vacuum to remove any lint periodically to avoid build up in the machine 
  • Removing lint also allows a dryer to operate more efficiently, saving costs on energy and wear on the appliance 
  • Like other electrical units, always inspect any space heater and it’s cords for damages like loose or frayed ends, exposed wires or nicks in the insulation before use 
  • Never leave a space heater unattended, even if you’re in another room. Always unplug your heater when not in use. Never place a space heater near flammable liquids or objects like furniture, drapes, bedding or appliances 
  • Always place your heater on level ground, avoid setting your heater up on top of things like tables, countertops or chairs 
  • Never use propane or kerosene heaters in areas without proper ventilation

4. Cooking Safety

Cooking and enjoying your favorite meals is just another traditional way to celebrate. Creating a memorable experience with your loved ones is a great way to indulge in the holiday spirit. Whether we’re brewing our homemade ciders, baking cookies, ham, turkey and pies, there are certainly risks to avoid in preventing kitchen fires: 

  • Never leave a burning stove top or oven unattended, and be sure that burners and oven are shut off completely after us to avoid injury, fire or explosion 
  • Avoid placing items near burning stove top,  
  • Always use reasonable heat as recommended per cooking or baking instructions to avoid burning, boiling over or igniting foods 
  • Inspect cooking appliances regularly for gas leaks, loose or frayed wires, and other noticeable damages 
  • Always place cooking appliances on even ground 
  • Use timers when cooking and baking to avoid burning food or igniting it 
  • Always use proper cooking utensils and hardware like stainless steel cookie sheets or cake pans 
  • Keep all children and pets away from cooking appliances while in use and shortly after to avoid injury or accidental fires 

5. Christmas Tree Safety

A Christmas tree is arguably the biggest declaration of the holiday season. Lights, glistening garland and tinsel, colored and sparkly bulbs, beautifully crafted ornaments and the smell of fresh spruce in the air. Even though trees can be the final piece of establishing the holiday spirit, it’s important to remember these key tips when putting up your Christmas Tree! 

  • Be mindful when selecting a tree and inspect the tree for dryness and signs of freshness before purchasing 
  • Always use a tree stand that holds a sufficient amount of water for the size of the tree being used to prevent the tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard  
  • Never place your Christmas tree near fireplaces and never place candles near your tree 
  • Always use lighting that radiate low heat. Information on different products can be found on a product tag or  website 
  • Never leave your lights on overnight or for other prolonged periods of time, the lights may become increasingly hot and create a risk for a big fire 
  • Always inspect wiring on artificial tree that may have lights imbedded in it.  
  • Always be cautious of electrical outlets and power strip placement to avoid serious shock when handling the tree 

Sometimes, accidents happen, even with the proper precautions being taken. Therefor it’s important that you speak with your homeowners’ insurance agent at least once a year to review your policy and updates. Changes to your existing policy can occur for several reasons ranging from recent claims filed, new or changing local and federal legislation, or even new ownership of the insurance company itself. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to understand their policy, what it covers and what it don’t, any exclusions and term limits set forth for specific losses, should one be claimed. Reviewing your policy with your professional agent periodically helps to ensure that you won’t be leaving your home or family vulnerable to financial hardships and burdens.  

The holidays are a time for joy, happiness and gathering for family and friends. We hope you find use of these safety tips to keep you and your family safe and healthy! From our family to yours, 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

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