Your home may be full of fire hazards you aren’t aware of; from the kitchen stove to a fragrant candle, to festive holiday lights. Common household items can turn dangerous very quickly. 84% of all fire deaths occur in the home. The holiday season presents an increased risk for home fires.
Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. One of every three home Christmas tree files is caused by electrical problems. Typically, shorts in electrical lights, open flames from candles, or matches start tree fires. It is important to have a well-watered tree. A heat source close to the tree causes roughly one in six of Christmas tree fires. December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, an average of 11% of home candle fires begin with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year. This holiday season consider using battery-operated flameless candles.
Residential fires kill around 3,000 Americans each year. Of these deaths, most occur in homes without smoke detectors. Having a working smoke detector more than doubles one’s chances of surviving a fire. One smoke detector is not enough in most cases. Every home should be equipped with smoke doctors on every level, particularly outside of sleeping areas. Ensure that your smoke detectors are tested monthly and batteries are replaced twice a year. Encourage children to help test the smoke detectors. Familiarize them with the sounds of the alarms(s).
The most important things to save in a fire are lives: you, your family and your pets. When a smoke alarm goes off, will your family know how to escape? Have an escape route for each area of the home and a designated meeting place outside. Draw a map. Make the map one that is easy for all members of the family and visitors to understand. When planning for a family with young children, be sure to teach them not to hide from fire or smoke, and to go to the firefighters who are there to help them. All c children should be familiar with the idea of “crawling under the smoke” to escape a fire. “Stop, drop and roll” is another safety principle that must be ingrained into children’s minds.
Multi-storied buildings are of special concern. Ensure that everyone is familiar with how to use an escape ladder if necessary. Make sure every sleeping room has two means of escape in the event of a fire. Windows provide a secondary means of escape. Ensure they are in proper working order, are not painted shut, and guards are able to be disengaged in case of a fire and escape is necessary through that window. Everyone must understand that once you escape, you must never reenter a burning building. Call emergency responders (911) from a neighbor’s house. Make sure to practice your escape plan periodically. It is easier to remember in case of an emergency. Young children should know how to dial 911, their street address and last name.
Keep all-purpose fire extinguishers in your kitchen. Be certain that it is rated for grease fires and electrical fires. It is a good idea to keep fire extinguishers near the furnace, garage, and anywhere else a fire may start. These extinguishers are affordable, life-saving equipment for the home. Make sure every able-bodied member of the family is trained and familiar with the proper way to use the fire extinguisher. If you must use an extinguisher, make sure you have a clear way out in the event you can’t put out the fire.
Here are a few reminders about events at the Health Department. Family Planning/BCCSP clinic for December 9th has been rescheduled. The next clinic date has been set for January 27th. Call for an appointment. Free yoga classes are still available on December 10th at 6:30 pm. Please stay tuned for future physical activity events. The Board of Health will meet December 16th at 12 pm. The office will be closed December 13th for a staff meeting. Also, the office will be closed December 24th and 25th to observe the Christmas holiday. December 31st the office will close at 12 pm.