It’s that time of year: Weather is changing and temperatures are dropping. In addition, Christmas decorations are on display at many homes, and while they may be festive, some can also be fire hazards if not used properly.
The Roswell Fire Marshal’s Office reminds citizens of increased potential dangers that can result in home fires during this holiday/winter season and offers some tips to prevent accidental fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, in each year from 2011 to 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 200 residential fires that were ignited by electrical issues or open-flame decorations, or other items or issues, related to a Christmas tree. These fires caused an annual average of six deaths, 16 injuries and $14.8 million in direct property damage.
The causes of the majority of those Christmas tree-related fires were lighting or other electrical distribution or a candle or other open flame with decorations. Make sure to not overload electrical outlets and always keep open flames such as candles away from combustible materials, children and pets.
Regardless of whether it is the midst of the Christmas season or the post-holiday part of winter, as the temperatures drop, most people turn up the heat in their homes. A malfunction in the heating system can spark a fire, so it is important to ensure smoke alarms are in place to provide adequate warning.
A small fire in a single room can take as little as two to seven minutes to create an environment that cannot be survived! Early warning, especially when people are asleep, is crucial.
Every room should have a working smoke detector, except in the direct kitchen area and bathrooms as cooking and steam can cause detectors to issue false alarms. At a minimum, smoke detectors should be located inside all sleeping areas/rooms and hallways connecting sleeping areas. Make sure to test smoke detectors monthly, including smoke detectors that are “hard wired” within the home’s electrical system, and replace batteries at least once a year (twice a year is better).
Another simple point to remember is to close bedroom doors at night while sleeping. In the event of a fire, closed doors can help slow the spread of fire and deadly smoke, allowing more time for escape.
Some fire prevention tips to remember:
- Constantly attend all cooking activities.
- Use space heaters as directed by the instructions and keep away from combustibles.
- Do not use extension cords or “power strips” to supply power to space heaters.
- Never leave space heaters or other heat-producing appliances unattended.
- Do not use ovens to heat a room or home. Leaving the door of the oven open for heat can be deadly by allowing carbon monoxide to build up in the room or home.
Keep in mind residential homes are not necessarily designed to carry the extra load of space heaters and Christmas lights or other electrical decorations. Electrical outlets can easily become overloaded this time of year with the extra added demand placed on them.
Lastly, beware of the dangers of using heat lamps, especially to provide warmth for pets. The animals can easily knock them over. Three fires, resulting in significant property damage, have already occurred this year in Roswell as a result of the use of a heat lamp in sheds, porches and dog houses.
Citizens are encouraged to call the Roswell Fire Marshal’s Office at 624-6830 with any questions, or to seek further information, about fire prevention in the home during the holiday and winter season.