Be Merry, Bright, & Safe: Holiday Fire Prevention Tips

Like it or not, winter is here in Minneapolis – and Jack Frost is likely feeling quite at home, unlikely to make an exit for months. While many people say they dislike winter, there is no denying it also ushers in a magical season – with Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and winter family fun like skiing, sledding, skating, and so on. Or, if you’re like many of us at 24 Restore, it’s hockey season!

However, cold weather and more time in doors also means an increase in the risk of house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the leading cause of all winter house fires, and many of them happen around dinnertime – between 5 and 8 p.m.

Sadly, NFPA also says an average of 905 people die in house fires each winter, and fires during this time of year cause more than $2 billion in property damage. Two-thirds of them occur in one or two-family homes, while the rest occur in multi-unit settings.

Check out this video by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to see just how quickly a natural Christmas tree can burn when it’s dried out. Wow – less than a minute for it to be totally consumed. Just imagine how quickly that fire can spread through the house then during dry winter months.

Our first fire prevention tip for the holidays: keep your tree watered!

Back to stats from the NFPA, holiday decorations cause about 860 house fires every year between 2009 and 2013, Christmas trees excluded! Decorations too close to a heat source – like a candle or the fireplace – sparked nearly half of those fires. Twenty percent started in the kitchen, and one out of six started in the living room, family room, or den. One in five house fires started by decorations inside a home (holiday or otherwise) happen in the month of December.

Tip 2: Keep decorations away from heat sources!

Thanksgiving is the first holiday we celebrate in the winter months (unless you count Halloween which, let’s face it, sometimes feels and looks like the dead of winter when there is an early snowfall or temperature plunge!) Anyway … Thanksgiving is the #1 day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, then Christmas Eve. Remember that decoration bit we just talked about? Well – 18 percent of cooking fires involve decorations catching fire because they are too close to the stove or other cooking equipment.

So … when you’re cooking, be mindful of the environment around you. Be sure to turn off the cooktop or oven when it’s not in use, and keep decorations clear of any and all heat sources.

Lastly, let’s talk about candles. Who doesn’t love a wonderful smelling pumpkin or cinnamon spice candle burning during the holidays? For many of us, scents are part of the magic of the holidays! However – back to that whole discussion about decoration fires, half of those fires were started by candles during the month of December. That stat drops 15 percent in November and January – so it’s clear candles are used much more regularly around Christmastime.

The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve.

As always, exercise common sense when lighting candles in your home. Make sure decorations are far away from the flame, and the candles aren’t within reach of children or animals. Also, be sure to blow out the candle before leaving the house or heading to bed!

If you’ve been known to forget this to blow out candles or turn off decorations, just set an alarm on your phone for right around bedtime to remind you to double check everything before heading to bed.