The time for the annual winter holidays is on our doorstep. With that comes a lot of good cheer, celebrations, and spending quality time with your loved ones. Unfortunately, according to the National Fire Protection Association, this time of the year also increases the risk of residential fires, injuries, and even deaths. Let’s take a closer look at why this is the case and what you can do to protect your family and friends.
Facts About The Increased Risk Of Fires During The Winter Holidays
- Between 2015 to 2019, electrical lighting or distribution equipment played a role in nearly 50% of all residential fires involving Christmas trees. And close to 20% of Christmas tree fires were triggered by – believe it or not – decorative lights.
- The peak period for fires related to home cooking was on Thanksgiving. Christmas Day was not far behind, followed by Christmas Eve.
- Fire departments in the United States responded to an average of around 790 fires per year that involved home structures and started with decorations other than Christmas trees. On average, these fires resulted in the death of at least one person, while 26 people suffered burn wounds. In addition, direct property damage amounted to $13 million per year.
- Around 40% of fires involving residential Christmas trees began in a home’s living room.
- There was a surge in candle fires during the December/January period, with 22% of candle fires for the year taking place during this time of the year.
- Issues with the decorative lighting triggered close to 20% of fires involving Christmas trees. Candles were responsible for 8% of these fires.
- Throughout the year, around 35% of all fires involving home decorations were caused by candles. This surged to record highs during December when candles caused 45% of these fires.
- Cooking was the cause of 19% of all fires involving Christmas decorations.
Help Prevent a Fire at Your Home During The Winter Holiday Season
Below are some tips on making your winter holidays safer when decorating your home and entertaining guests.
Reduce The Risk of Fire When Decorating Your Home
- Be very careful when choosing holiday decorations. Make sure you choose ones that are, if not flame resistant, at least flame retardant.
- Ensure that, once a candle has been lit, it doesn’t come near decorations or anything else that can burn.
- Certain lights are suitable for outdoor but not for indoor use. Ask before you buy. Also, check the manufacturer’s recommendations when connecting more than one light strand.
- Immediately replace a string of lights if you notice potential fire hazards such as loose bulbs or broken or worn cords.
- Use clips rather than nails if you want to hang lights to ensure that the cords won’t be damaged.
- Keep Christmas decorations away from doors and windows.
- When choosing a Christmas tree, make sure it has fresh green needles.
- Place the tree at least 3 ft away from a heat source such as a radiator, fireplace, heat vents, lights, or candles.
- Add water to the tree stand every day.
Minimize The Risk of Fire When Entertaining Over The Holidays
- Make sure all the smoke alarms are working before your guests arrive.
- Never allow pets and children near lit candles.
- Store things like lighters and matches in a cabinet too high to reach for kids.
- Do not leave the kitchen when something is busy cooking on the stove.
Make This Holiday Season a Safe And Happy One
We hope the above safety tips will go a long way to make your winter holidays safer – and ultimately happier. If you have any questions related to this topic (or anything else to do with home insurance), please feel free to call us. We are always standing by.