The winter holidays are a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, sharing delicious food and making memories. But it’s also when we’re at increased risk for holiday fire hazards from cooking, candles, Christmas trees and more. Here are five fast fixes you can do right now to help keep your winter warm and bright without going up in flames or taking a trip to the ER.
Recipe to cook without holiday fire hazards: cool it in the kitchen.
The Red Cross says that cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and home injuries. Home fires are more likely to start in the kitchen than in any other room. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Christmas Eve are the three leading days for home structure fires caused by cooking.
Fast fix: Never leave cooking food unattended.
Stay in the kitchen if you are:
If you have to leave the kitchen for any amount of time, turn off the stove, oven or grill.
Stay in the house and regularly check the kitchen if you are:
- Boiling (remain in the kitchen until liquid has come to a boil and you’ve turned the heat down)
Jason West, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Denton, discusses when to go to the ER with a burn and how you can tell what percentage of a person’s body is burned.
Bright idea to deck the halls without holiday fire hazards: check lights and decorations.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFP)
- 40% of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical or lighting equipment
- Holiday lights and decorations account for roughly 840 home structure fires annually in which fire departments are called
- Decorations and heat sources, including lights and candles, don’t mix: placing decorations too close to heat sources accounts for 42% of holiday decoration fires
Fast fix: Leave ample space between holiday decorations and heat sources (3 feet) and use clips instead of nails or staples to hang lights so cords don’t get damaged.
A fresh way to prevent holiday fire hazards: tips for tending live Christmas trees.
While Christmas tree fires are less common than other types of holiday fires, when they do happen they are more likely to result in serious injuries and death. Having a dry Christmas tree in your home, especially one that is too close to a heart source or blocks an exit, is a real fire hazard. In fact, 37% of reported Christmas tree fires occurred in January when trees had dried out.
Fast fix: Choose a fresh, green tree with needles that don’t fall off when gently pulled, water your tree every day and dispose of it properly after Christmas or when it gets dry. This means putting it curbside and not leaving it in your yard, garage or next to your house.
Turn down the heat on holiday fire hazards: keep an eye on candles.
Candles get a bad rap when it comes to causing home structure fires and the risk increases in December when we use them more and in combination with potentially flammable decorations. According to the NFP:
- Candles are responsible for 55% of December home decoration fires (compared to 32% the rest of the year)
- Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are the top three days for home candle fires
Fast fix: Keep candles at least 3 feet away from flammable items/surfaces, blow them out when leaving the room or going to bed and place them where kids and pets can’t knock them over.
Celebrate your success at preventing holiday fire hazards: use fireworks safely.
Although most fireworks-related injuries happen in June and July, 10% of fires caused by fireworks happen between December 30 and January 3, peaking on New Year’s Day. Even fireworks that we typically consider safe enough for children, such as sparklers, can burn at 1,200°F and hotter.
Fast fix: Ring in the New Year with favor-filled crackers — they are widely available at local retailers and online in a variety of themes.
You’ll find more fire safety and burn prevention tips in Don’t Get Burned: Know the Top Rules of Fire Safety.
Get fast, emergency help for burns and other injuries at one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.