MCFRS News Release
Deck the Halls Safely this Holiday Season - Most Home Fires are PREVENTABLE
Recent incidents have prompted fire officials to remind residents that the best way to fight a fire is to prevent it from happening. Fire Chief Richard Bowers is urging all residents to make safety a tradition this holiday season. “With the holidays and winter weather fast approaching, it is important for all residents to take steps to prevent fires. By taking a few extra precautions, you can make your home fire safe for the holiday season and for the rest of the year,” stated Chief Bowers.
There are several things that families can do to reduce the risk of fire during the busy holiday season. Here are some fire safety tips to keep you and your family safe:
Christmas Trees - Don’t just put any Christmas tree in your house. When selecting a tree, freshness is important. Check the needles to make sure they are green and difficult to pull back from the branches. If the tree has been freshly cut, the needles should not break. The way to spot an old tree is by lifting the tree up and down from the ground and noticing if any needles fall off. If they do, the tree is probably dried out and is a fire hazard. Keep your tree watered daily and do not place the tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent.
Holiday lights should be inspected for frayed wires, bare spots, broken or cracked sockets, excessive kinking or wear before plugging them in. Use lights that have been listed by an approved testing laboratory and avoid stringing more than three light strands together.
Overloaded extension cords and outlets can present a serious fire safety hazard. Make sure that the extension cord is suitable for the electrical “load” needed. Do not place cords under furniture or rugs and do not plug two extension cords together to increase the total length. Demanding too much power from an extension cord risks overheating and fire. Be sure to read all packaging and instructions carefully when purchasing an extension cord and ensure it is UL listed.
Firing up the fireplace? Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Let them completely cool down and place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house, garage or decks or other combustibles.
Never use a range or an oven as a supplemental heating device. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
Have all heating appliances - furnaces, water heaters and wood stoves - checked and serviced annually by a reliable professional. Never store combustible materials near a furnace or hot water heater.
Candle fires peak during the holiday season. Most holiday candle fires occur when people leave burning candles unattended or place candles too close to holiday decorations. Keep candles in a secure holder and surface away from children and pets. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue recommends the use of battery powered flashlights or lanterns in the event of a power outage.
Give space heaters space and ensure at least 3 feet clearance from combustibles (anything that can burn). Do not overload the electrical circuit and dedicate an outlet to the space heater. Always stay in the room while a space heater is operating and turn it off when leaving the area or room. Follow manufacturer recommendations when using space heaters.
Be prepared – snowy roads and cold temperatures have arrived. Whether at home or on the road, be sure to have a simple emergency preparedness kit on hand. For suggestions on what to include in your kit, please visit our website at www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe.
Remember – having a working smoke alarm increases your chance of surviving a fire. Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm and be sure to push the test button to ensure it’s working and to change the batteries annually. Smoke alarms make great gifts, too!